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Polio Prevention

Polio Prevention: Worldwide

With the continued success of polio vaccination programs, a cure for polio may be possible within the next decade. In 1988, the World Health Assembly (the governing body of the World Health Organization) adopted the goal of global eradication of poliovirus by the year 2000. Although this goal was not achieved, substantial progress has been made. One type of poliovirus appears to have already been eradicated. The last isolation of type 2 virus was in India in October 1999. Furthermore, in 2003, only 784 confirmed cases of polio were reported globally, and polio was endemic in six countries.

The polio eradication initiative is supported by a coalition of international organizations that includes the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and other bilateral and multilateral organizations. Rotary International has contributed more than $500 million to support the eradication initiative.

Polio Prevention: Why Is Vaccination Still Necessary?

Widespread use of polio vaccine has led to complete elimination of polio cases in the United States. The last case of wild-virus polio acquired in the United States was in 1979. However, polio can occur in other countries and can be easily brought into the Unites States. If vaccinations for polio prevention were stopped, polio would return to pre-vaccine levels in the United States and hundreds of people would die from polio-related illnesses.

Preventing the Spread of Polio

People who have possible polio symptoms following exposure to a person with polio may be infected with the poliovirus. People who are potentially infectious with polio should minimize the risk of spreading polio by limiting contact with other people who may be susceptible. Contact should be limited until a medical diagnosis excluding polio has been established.
People who are potentially infectious with polio should especially avoid public transportation (including commercial airlines) and crowded indoor areas. Patients who suspect they may have polio should call ahead before visiting a clinic or hospital so that arrangements may be made for the healthcare provider to attend to the patient without exposing others in the facility to polio.

Polio Disease

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