Poliomyelitis Virus Responsible for Polio
For 40 years, a worldwide vaccination campaign. It is possible that these days we are witnessing the end of another ancient disease that has been responsible for the death and paralysis of many people around the world for more than 2500 years. The poliomyelitis virus, which is responsible for polio, is a virus that communicates through the digestive system and is particularly common in areas with low sanitary levels. This is a very infectious virus that first attacks the intestines and then invades the bloodstream and eventually attacks the nervous system. In most cases, the disease passes without any side effects, but in one in 200 patients on average it can cause paralysis and even death. Unlike diseases that are sometimes transmitted to us from animals, the polio virus is able to incubate only in humans, making it an excellent candidate for eradication. Once we are able to vaccinate a sufficiently large percentage of the population for the virus, there will be no one to incubate and who to infect, and it will disappear from the world like smallpox.
The virus has three major strains, with species 2, the most violent, already spoken a few years ago and is currently not found in the weakened vaccine components. Nigeria has a localized outbreak of a strain from the old vaccines that mutated due to low immunization coverage. The two remaining strains were also introduced in most countries of the world, with large vaccination campaigns.
The World Health Organization recently reported that as of today only two countries have an active outbreak of the wild virus – Pakistan and Afghanistan. Teams from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) have joined forces with the governments of these countries to undertake a large-scale vaccination operation in both countries. The situation looks encouraging. About 20 years ago, 30,000 children with polio-related polio symptoms were reported alone in Pakistan, while only eight patients were counted in the past year.
“There is no reason why we should not finish the job, we are almost there,” said Professor Helen Rees, chairman of the polio emergency committee. “But we will have to continue to do so. We succeeded in the past with smallpox. The world is a much better place without smallpox. If we stop what we are doing, we may return to a situation where 200-300,000 children are paralyzed each year. ”
Beyond the fact that spreading the virus will save many lives and remove one worry from the health authorities’ agenda, it may also save a lot of money – both on patient care and on vaccines: there will be no point in vaccinating against a disease that no longer exists.