To Your Health: Polio
When my mother worked at Governors State University near Chicago, Dr. Jonas Salk was once the speaker for commencement. My Grandma Rell accompanied her daughter to that ceremony and when she had the chance to meet Dr. Salk, she said, “thank you for saving my kids.” The scientist credited with developing the polio vaccine smiled and said, “well, I had a lot of help.”
Hello, I’m Dr. Brooke Hildebrand Clubbs at Southeast Missouri State University. Polio was one of the most feared diseases in the U.S. in the early 1950s when my mother was a child, causing more than 15,000 cases of paralysis a year. The U.S has been considered polio-free since 1979; however, that status is now threatened. A polio case was recorded in Rockland County, New York, this spring. Wastewater testing and genetic sequencing have shown the virus has been quietly circulating in a couple of New York counties since at least May. And it recently was detected in New York City's wastewater. Now, authorities believe there could be hundreds of unreported cases in the area. While only one person has been paralyzed, in public health, just one case of paralytic polio constitutes an outbreak.
While polio cannot be cured, it can be prevented. The CDC reports polio vaccine protects children by preparing their bodies to fight the poliovirus. Almost all children (more than 99 percent) who get all the recommended doses of the inactivated polio vaccine will be protected from polio.
Dr. Salk may be gone, but he needs a lot of help again, and this time it is from everyone. Get your child vaccinated on schedule and encourage others to do the same.