World Polio Day 2016: What is Polio?

October 24th of every year has been set aside as World Polio Day.

Polio is the short form of poliomyelitis which is an acute infection caused by polio virus, leading to muscle weakness, paralysis and sometimes deformity.

Polio has been eradicated in most countries, however, just as Nigeria was about to be declared polio-free, the virus struck again in the northern part of the country.

One of the major reasons for setting days aside to commemorate issues (whether health issues or not) is to create awareness.

According to a popular adage, ‘To be forewarned is to be forearmed’.

As we commemorate World Polio Day today, do you really know what Polio is?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO): Poliomyelitis (polio) is an acute communicable disease of humans caused by a human enterovirus of the Picornaviridae family.

It lives in the throat and intestine of the infected person. It is transmitted by oral contact with secretions or faecal material from an infected person. It can be paralytic (about 1 percent of the occurring cases) or non-paralytic.

Most infections of the virus are asymptomatic (without symptoms), but after some days, symptoms such as fever, sore throat, headache, etc., begin to develop.

The most severe form of poliomyelitis is Paralytic Polio which affects the spinal cord, brain stem or both and results in paralysis. People with paralysis may often benefit from using mobility equipment like scooters to move around.

Polio is prevented through vaccinations. There are two types of vaccines used in preventing the spread of this infection:

  • Inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV)
  • Oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV)

Only IPV has been used in the United States since 2000; OPV is still used throughout much of the world.

As we commemorate World Polio Day today, ensure to get your kids vaccinated.

Stay healthy.

In what ways can you say the government has fallen short in kicking polio out of Nigeria? Please answer in the comment section below. If you have a question, click here.