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DAVE DAVIES: Work continues to eradicate polio

GUEST COMMENTARY: Cases of polio have fallen from more than 300,000 in the 1980s to 200 in 2012

Dave Davies

Dave Davies

Polio — the word has struck fear into the hearts of thousands of individuals and families over the years. Poliomyelitis, or polio, is a highly contagious viral infection that can lead to paralysis, breathing problems, or even death. This horrible disease that cripples and kills has nearly been eradicated from the Earth, yet cases continue to be found each year.

In the late 1980s, over 300,000 cases were identified each year versus just over 200 in 2012. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared polio to be the next disease that will be eradicated from the world.

There are three countries — Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria — where the disease is endemic. However, cases are discovered every year in countries where the disease was believed to have been eliminated, including the United States.

Polio is generally transmitted through contaminated water or food, although other types of transmission are possible. However, since the 1950s when immunization against polio was developed, the spread of the disease has been significantly arrested. Many countries are now considered to be polio-free.

However, factors such as politics, funding challenges, fear, and suspicion conspire to undermine efforts by such organizations as Rotary International, the World Health Organization, and UNICEF to eradicate this disease.

In conjunction with Rotary International, the Dougherty County Rotary Club’s “Polio Plus Initiative” is designed to raise funds to help with the elimination of polio from the Earth. We need your help.

First, please ensure that children are properly vaccinated against polio. Second, help us to spread the word about the importance of immunization. Finally, please consider supporting your local Rotary club as we work toward polio eradication worldwide.

Dave Davis is a member of the Dougherty County Rotary Club’s Polio Plus Team, which is working with Rotary International to raise awareness about polio and to eradicate the disease.