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Can It Be Prevented?

The best cure for polio is preventing it in the first place. Prevention is best accomplished with a vaccine, which is usually given as a shot. Only one kind of vaccine, inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), is now used in the United States. A live, oral polio vaccine (OPV) has not been used in the United States since 2000 but is still used in many parts of the world.
(Click Polio Prevention for more information about preventing this illness.)

History of Polio

Polio was one of the most dreaded childhood diseases of the 20th century in the United States. There were usually about 13,000 to 20,000 cases of paralytic polio reported each year in the United States before the introduction of the Salk vaccine in 1955. The disease peaked in 1952 when there were more than 21,000 reported cases. The number of cases decreased dramatically following the introduction of the vaccine and the development of a national polio vaccination program. In 1965, only 61 cases of paralytic polio were reported compared to 2,525 cases reported cases just five years earlier in 1960.
The last cases of naturally occurring paralytic polio in the United States were in 1979, when an outbreak occurred among the Amish in several Midwestern states. From 1980 through 1999, there were 152 confirmed cases of paralytic polio cases reported. Of the 152 cases, eight cases were acquired outside the United States and imported. The remaining 144 cases were vaccine-associated paralytic polio caused by the live oral polio vaccine.
(Click History of Polio for more information.)
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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