Scientific Success Story – Polio

I came on a story today about a new version of the polio vaccine. According to the BBC, A new version of the polio vaccine is helping to eradicate this debilitating disease. Although it has been many years since it has been a concern here, I am old enough to remember relatives and community members who were crippled enough to need a cane or a wheelchair to get around. In some of the rest of the world, people have not been so fortunate.

Child with polio

Mass vaccination campaigns have led to the number of polio endemic countries falling from 125 in 1988 to just four in 2005. This meant an actual drop in cases from 350,000 to just 1,606 in 2009.

This means that another  that another scourge is on the way out. First there was small smallpox:

Through the success of the global eradication campaign, smallpox was finally pushed back to the horn of Africa and then to a single last natural case, which occurred in Somalia in 1977. A fatal laboratory-acquired case occurred in the United Kingdom in 1978. The global eradication of smallpox was certified, based on intense verification activities in countries, by a commission of eminent scientists in December 1979 and subsequently endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 1980.

Then the livestock disease rinderpest. The new vaccine has been instrumental in this decrease, and hopefully will end with total eradication. More from the BBC

The new vaccine has already been used in immunisation campaigns in Afghanistan, India and Nigeria. In India the number of cases this time last year was 464. Over the same period this year there have only been only 39 cases. Nigeria has seen an even greater difference, with cases falling by 95%

More information on polio can be found here.

Lets hope they get rid of it soon.

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