Poliomyelitis is a disease occurring in poor people, in crowded places and in developing countries. . Due to extensive campaigning by W.H.O. motivating people for vaccinating the children against polio, the number has been brought down but cases still occur.
Polio as poliomyelitis is commonly known is a crippling disease as it leads to paralysis of the limbs. It is therefore a matter of concern for all that with much technical advancement in field of medicine, a preventable disease like polio still occurs in under developed countries.
Underlying cause for polio is the polio virus which is an entero virus. It gains entry in the body through the fecal –oral route, i.e. directly in the alimentary system via food or drinks taken with contaminated hands or dishes.
Some cases can occur via droplet infection through the nose. Virus can be expelled via sneezing or talking by the affected person and enters the body of the person sitting adjacent or opposite through the nose.
After gaining passage inside the body, it multiplies and goes to the nervous system directly through nerve fibers or the blood stream. It damages the nerve cells leading to paralysis of the limbs.
Now whether disease develops or not and severity of the disease depends on the amount of virus entered and resistance of the affected person.
Infants and young children are commonly affected .Poverty and the resultant over crowding, lack of sanitation and ignorance are the risk factors for causing cases of polio.
Mild infections usually subside in 3 to 7 days without causing any illness. In others there may be flu like illness to begin with, followed by paralysis of one or more limbs.
Once paralysis develops, it is no longer correctable by medicines. Appliances like calipers to aid the child to walk remains the only option commonly available. But it can never replace the normal gait possible with natural limbs thus making a child crippled for life.
Surgery is another treatment option available, where the paralyzed limb is removed and replaced by prosthesis. Though cosmetically better, but it does not provide the natural flexibility present in normal limbs.
The drawback to surgery is that one has to wait till the child attains puberty or full growth; otherwise the prosthesis falls short of the growing body.
Technically it has to be replaced when the child grows if inserted in early childhood. It is very expensive and is associated with all the potential risks of surgery like infection, hemorrhage, clot formation, e.t.c.
Many organizations across the world are doing corrective surgeries for victims of polio on charitable basis without any charges. But not all affected families are aware of this and they have to find means to reach the center concerned, which again is difficult for an impoverished family.
Concerning all these facts, the best option remains prevention. That is possible through polio vaccination, which is supposed to be given to all babies’ right from birth as per a schedule of immunization.
Polio drops are given orally, thus the hazard of pain of injection is not there. It is free, so cost is not a constraint. But in spite of this, many poor people in underdeveloped countries fail to understand the importance of vaccination against polio.
The aim of the pulse polio campaign started by W.H.O. in the last decade of the previous century was to eradicate polio from the world. Though the prevalence has come down drastically, cases still occur.
The need of the hour is extensive education about polio and its prevention at the grass root level. Official organizations are doing their best effort. Person to person individual education can add impetus and help in eradicating polio from this world.
Thus it is the responsibility of all individuals to educate the poor ignorant people who come in their contact about the importance of good hygiene, small families and getting the children immunized.
This would include farmers, laborers, mine workers, domestic help, e.t.c. With combined efforts like these, polio will surely become a disease of the past.