WORLD POLIO DAY
On October 24th, World Polio Day highlights the global efforts to make the world polio-free. The day also honors the contributions of those who work tirelessly to eradicate polio.
Poliomyelitis is a life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus. The condition is more commonly known as polio. Symptoms of polio are similar to influenza and include:
- Stiffness in the back or neck
- Stiffness in the arms or legs
- Muscle weakness
Contrary to popular belief, polio does not always cause paralysis. Some people with the poliovirus don’t have any symptoms. However, in severe cases, the virus can cause nerve injury. When there is a nerve injury, it can lead to paralysis and even death.
Polio hit the United States during the first part of the 20th century. Each summer, the virus struck without warning. Nobody knew what caused the poliovirus or how it was spread. For four decades, parents in this country worried their children would get the virus. In 1952, there were nearly 58,000 cases of polio. Just over 3,000 of these cases resulted in death. Each year, the virus caused more than 15,000 cases of paralysis. Thankfully, researchers discovered a polio vaccination, thus ending the spread of this virus.
Today, polio is nearly nonexistent in the United States. However, this contagious virus still exists in other countries. Two countries in particular still have a polio-endemic happening. These countries include Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is still hope, though, that one day the entire globe will be polio-free.
HOW TO OBSERVE #WorldPolioDay
Rotary International, along with other health organizations, holds a variety of events on this day. These events include screenings of documentaries about polio, polio walks, and informational seminars. Communities and organizations also host concerts and other events to raise money for polio research. To participate:
- Donate to your local Rotary Club.
- Learn more about polio and the polio vaccination.
- Wear a burgundy ribbon to spread awareness for post-polio syndrome.
- Watch a documentary about the polio vaccine, such as The Shot Felt ‘Round the World.
Finally, spread awareness for this day on social media with #WorldPolioDay.
WORLD POLIO DAY HISTORY
In 1988, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution to eradicate polio around the world. Under this resolution, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched. The World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and the CDC spearheaded the initiative. Another organization that became involved in the initiative was Rotary International. Years later, Rotary International founded World Polio Day. The first event was held in the early 2000s. They chose October 24th to commemorate the birthdate of Jonas Salk. He led the first team to develop a vaccination against polio and began testing it in 1953.