World Polio Day – 24th October 2011

Remember those Polio drops that the school nurse popped onto your tongue? Well I do, and for me they worked. Since those days I have visited areas that you can still contract Polio, so I paid up and had the relevant vaccinations and took all reasonable precautions. The vaccine probably hurt, but only for a short time. 

For future generations we must, must prevent Polio from being allowed to destroy the lives of future generations. These generations are in the main, living in the Third World, where vaccination against Polio is not routine and where there is limited knowledge of dealing with outbreaks.

In the Western World, Polio has in the main been eradicated. 

Polio is a infectious disease caused by three polioviruses. It is spread by person to person contact via the nose, mouth or infected faeces. After the initial contact the virus is shed intermittently in faeces and is then unknowingly spread through communities.

Upon entering the body the virus multiplies in the throat and intestines. It then heads to the Central Nervous System, where it can destroy or damage the nerve cells that control muscle movement. Sadly, this can lead to muscle paralysis of any part of the body and even in some cases death.

The majority of people develop flu like symptoms and in some cases those infected do not even realise that they have polio. For some it will get into the Central Nervous System and will cause inflammation around the brain, spinal cord, and brain tissue. This is known as Non-Paralytic Polio.

Polio can invade the motor neurons causing weakness, paralysis, muscle cramps and pain. This is known as Paralytic Polio. Sometimes Polio affects the brain stem causing problems with breathing and swallowing, cardiovascular problems and facial problems. This is called Bulbar Polio.

Those who contracted Polio may be left with varying degrees of weakness, paralysis, fatigue and muscle pain. Some have breathing or Orthopaedic problems. Some have made what looks on the face of it a full recovery and sadly some never recover. It is estimated that there are around 120,000 people who have had polio.

Regardless of geography, Polio has set the wheels in motion for a further event. 

Post Polio Syndrome.

Post Polio Syndrome is a neurological condition suffered by those some 30 or 40 years after the initial diagnosis of Polio. 

After being stable or without any effects for many years, muscle weakness further develops in muscles not previously affected, there is increased or new fatigue,  muscle and joint pain. Post Polio usually being slowly, although there can be rapid onset following a trigger action, such as falls or surgery. 

Post Polio occurs regardless of age or Non-Paralytic or Paralytic Polio. As each symptom develops then this must be managed appropriately. 

There is no cure for Post Polio Syndrome.

So, now knowing what can happen once Polio is contracted, we need to be drawing together to eradicate such a disease. We can not stand by and do nothing. Please sign the Petition

Thankfully, I have never had Polio. My Mum was not so lucky, She contracted polio in 1952 aged 5. She received a diagnosis of Post Polio Syndrome in 1996.

Help to eradicate Polio now.

Further Links
The British Polio Fellowship 
British Polio Heritage Project
Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland (use hashtag #rotaryendpolio) or via Facebook

Disclaimer - The information provided here should not be taken as medical advice.

About Julie Goucher

Genealogist, Author, Presenter, native Guildfordian, avid note taker and journal writer. Lover of Books, Stationery & History; Surnames, Butcher & Orlando One-Name Studies. Pharos Tutor for all One-Name Studies/surname courses as well as Researching Ancestors from Continental Europe.
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