Poliomyelitis – Pakistan

Balochistan in Pakistan currently has found 26 cases of poliomyelitis this year. The latest victim is a 14 month old girl, originally from Union Council Karez Noth in Mastung. The girl had not received the polio vaccine, as her family refused polio drops during campaigns.

Balochistan has the highest number of polio cases in Pakistan. A total of 84 cases have been reported so far for this year. There are also 83 cases of vaccine-derived polio reported.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where wild poliovirus-associated cases are being reported. People traveling abroad have to carry a polio vaccination certificate.

Poliomyelitis, commonly shortened to polio, is an infectious disease caused by a virus. In about 0.5 percent of cases, it moves from the gut to affect the central nervous system and there is muscle weakness. Many people fully recover. However, years after recovery, post-polio syndrome may occur, with a slow development of muscle weakness similar to that which the person had during the initial infection.

The disease is preventable with the polio vaccine; however, multiple doses are required for it to be effective.

Photo: Polio virus, colorized.

Poliomyelitis has existed for thousands of years, with depictions of the disease in ancient art. The disease was first recognized as a distinct condition by the English physician Michael Underwood in 1789 and the virus that causes it was first identified in 1909 by the Austrian immunologist Karl Landsteiner. The first polio vaccine was developed in the 1950s.

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