What Do You Know About Polio?
I smiled when I read about the malaria vaccine last week. I thought about the fight to eradicate polio in Nigeria. What would it take for us as a people to completely accept immunisation for our children? Let’s talk Polio on today’s #HealthMattersWithDrWeyoms.
What do you know about Polio? What do you think of when you hear a child has/had polio?
Polio (poliomyelitis) mainly affects children under 5 years of age. According to the World Health Organisation, 1 in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis. I have seen cases of children affected by polio that led to irreversible paralysis and in many cases, they suffer discrimination as well. About 5 to 10 per cent of children dies when the muscles used for breathing stops working. Now that’s how bad polio can be when it affects children. Polio spreads really quickly. That’s why you see The Rotary Club is so committed to seeing that polio is eradicated in Nigeria.
Polio is caused by a virus. When it invades the nervous system, it can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route which in simple English means faeces to the mouth kind of infection spread or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (like contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine. Thus, good hygiene practices are very critical in preventing polio. It is essential that everyone learns to wash their hands properly.
The population most at risk are children under the age of 5 years. So parents and caregivers must be careful with handling food, water and also learn to practice good hygiene skills.
There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life, that’s why there’s the campaign for children to receive the vaccine as it saves lives.
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