October 24th marks a Global Day of Awareness, World Polio Day, where we recognize the tireless efforts of individuals working towards eradicating Polio – a highly infectious and often deadly disease that primarily affects young children. This day serves as a reminder of the significance of global cooperation to fight Polio and achieve the ultimate goal of a world free from this debilitating disease.
Polio, also known as Poliomyelitis, is a life-threatening illness caused by a contagious virus that invades the spinal cord, resulting in paralysis or death, especially in young children below the age of five. The virus is highly contagious and spreads through contact with feces, droplets, and contaminated objects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2 to 10 out of 100 people who contract the virus and become paralyzed will die. Poliovirus can live in an infected person’s intestines for many weeks, and symptoms can appear up to two weeks after infection. The virus typically shows no visible symptoms, and some people may experience flu-like symptoms that last for 2 to 5 days and go away on their own. In severe cases, it can affect the brain and spinal cord, causing meningitis or paralysis, which can lead to permanent disability or death. Only those with the paralytic infection are considered to have the disease.
While there is no cure or specific treatment for polio, physical or occupational therapy can help manage limb weakness caused by the disease. The best way to prevent polio is by getting vaccinated with either an Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (IPV) or Oral Poliovirus Vaccine (OPV). Both vaccines prepare the body to fight against Poliovirus. Good hand hygiene is also essential, by washing hands regularly with soap and water.
World Polio Day is observed every year on October 24th to ensure a polio-free future for every child and adult. This day raises awareness of the importance of polio vaccination to protect every child from this devastating disease. It celebrates the many parents, professionals, and volunteers whose contributions make polio eradication achievable.
Let us all unite and fight for a polio-free world, making it a happier and healthier place to live in.