Polio awareness week is celebrated between 6th Aug to 12th Aug and this week aims to raise awareness about the immunization and the prevention of polio.
Polio is a highly infectious and contagious viral disease which invades the nervous system further resulting in permanent paralysis. Children under the age of 5 are vulnerable to this deadly virus, with the newborns being the most affected.
Poliomyelitis, the virus which causes polio, generally dwells in the throat and intestinal tracts of human beings. Being a contagious disease, the virus enters the body via the mouth and multiplies inside the intestine which is then spread to the environment through the feces of the infected person.
These viruses get easily spread to other people especially among those who are living in poor hygienic conditions and where proper sanitation is not founded easily. Polio can even spread when edible food or drink gets contaminated by the infected feces while few instances suggest that flies passively transfer poliovirus from feces to food.
In many cases, victims experience no symptoms or very mild symptoms which generally go unnoticed. The first signs & symptoms usually consists fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, and stiffness in the neck and severe pain in the limbs.
The majority of the infections develop into irreversible paralysis, usually in the limbs. On multiplying, these deadly viruses tend to impair the nerve cells which activate the muscles.
With the reduction of stimulating nerve cells, these affected muscles cease to be functional and the corresponding limb becomes lifeless leading to a condition known as acute flaccid paralysis (AFP).
In severe cases, it attacks the nerve cells of the brain stem giving rise to breathing, swallowing, and speaking problems. There is a less chance of premature death as a result of immobilized breathing muscles. With children being the primary victim of this life-crippling disease, their future gets drastically hampered by paralysis, induced by poliovirus.
Polio being an incurable disease, proper immunization through vaccination is the only way to prevent it. There are two types of vaccine that offer protection against polio i.e. inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) and oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV).
Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (IPV) is usually taken in injection form to the limbs while Oral Poliovirus Vaccine (OPV) is consumed orally as the name suggests. Generally, childhood is the best time to get vaccinated for immunization from poliovirus.
A child must be administered 4 dosages of Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (IPV) before the age of 5 while adults can get themselves vaccinated with a booster dose at any age.
In order to eradicate polio, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched globally with all the infected nations adopting the Polio Immunization Programme which stressed on immunizing people of all ages.
Strengthening routine immunization, detecting the infected victims, increasing disease surveillance, and mop-up immunization were the key strategies followed by the Polio Immunization Programme.
With polio being now rampant only in two countries - Afghanistan and Pakistan, it has been extracted from rest of the world which involved tedious hard work and dedication of all major health organization and welfare communities. In years to come, Polio will surely be an issue of past with it being eradicated from the world very soon.