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What is Polio?
Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It invades the nervous system, and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine.
What are the symptoms of Polio?
Fever, Sore throat, Headache, Vomiting, Fatigue, Back pain or stiffness, Neck pain or stiffness, Pain or stiffness in the arms or legs, Muscle weakness or tenderness, Loss of reflexes, Severe muscle aches or weakness, Loose and floppy limbs (flaccid paralysis), often worse on one side of the body.
One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis (usually in the legs). Among those paralyzed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.
What is the global scenario like?
Since 1988 more than 2.5 billion children have been immunized worldwide, The number of worldwide polio cases has fallen from an estimated 350,000 in 1988 to 407 in 2013 decline of more than 99% in reported cases. Four regions of the world are certified polio free the Americas, Europe, South East Asia and the Western Pacific. Only three polio-endemic countries (countries that have never interrupted the transmission of wild poliovirus) remain Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
What is Polio’s status in Pakistan?
Pakistan is one of only three endemic countries in the world still struggling to eradicate Polio. Polio supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) for the home delivery of oral polio vaccine (OPV) were initiated in the country in 2000, when 119 cases of polio were reported. Although the number of cases declined to 32 in 2007, it has been rising steadily since 2008.In 2011 Pakistan reported the world’s highest number of polio cases and some fear the country may become the last remaining host of polio on earth. More than 100 Polio SIAs have been conducted since the year 2000.Every child less than 5 years of age who resides in Pakistan has to be reached during each SIA, since multiple doses of OPV are needed in countries with high endemicity for children to develop adequate immunity against polio.
Polio Eradication is a priority programme for the country. National emergency has been declared by the Government of Pakistan to interrupt polio transmission and achieve the goal of eradication. The National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) for Polio Eradication was developed and approved in 2011 by the Prime Minister of Pakistan along with all the Chief Ministers, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Prime Minister AJK in 2011 and subsequently launched by the President of Pakistan.
How do you prevent Polio?
Oral Polio virus Vaccine (OPV) is administered as drops by mouth at birth to all children, and then at 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks of age.