As the years go by and our technology gets smarter it is hard to imagine that we still have outbreaks of certain diseases. Recently we have seen an increase of mumps and measles cases. Just this year there has been over 100 cases of mumps reported so far. The measles have hit a record number of breakouts in 2019, or hitting approximately 940 cases of recorded measles, which is increasing in amount of cases each week. With vaccines and medicine advancements it’s amazing that these diseases are coming back. So with these occurrences of outbreaks what is the likelihood of other diseases coming back?
The polio virus was at its worst in 1952. That year it was the worst outbreak the U.S. had ever seen. Thankfully with the vaccine it almost squashed the polio virus altogether. The vaccine has mostly gotten rid of Polio completely with only a few cases still occurring in parts of Africa or Asia. After 1988 polio cases dramatically dropped in number, going from about 350,000 cases per year around the world to about 33 cases.
Polio is a very contagious virus. It sometimes has no symptoms but other times can be deadly. There is nonparalytic polio and paralytic polio.
Nonparalytic polio is when there is no paralysis as a result of contacting the virus. Other symptoms of nonparalytic polio are fever, sore throat, headache vomiting, fatigue, back pain, and muscle weakness. These symptoms can sometimes be confused with the flu.
Paralytic polio is the more serious form of Polio but it is also very rare. Paralytic polio will start off with the same symptoms as nonparalytic polio but within a week the symptoms will increase to having signs of loss of reflexes, severe muscle aches, and loose or floppy limbs.
After having polio people can contract post-polio syndrome. This occurs after you have had the polio virus and all the other symptoms have ran their course. Post-polio syndrome will have symptoms like progressive muscle weakness, fatigue, atrophy, sleep apnea or breathing or swallowing problems.
The Polio vaccine is usually given to infants at 4 doses. One at two months, 4 months, between 6 and 18 months and then 4-6 years of age. This vaccine schedule is given to children in the United States, if for some reason as a child you aren’t given the vaccine, they can give the vaccine as an adult.
If for some reason you do get the polio virus they will treat your symptoms with pain relievers, a portable breathing device to help with your breathing, and moderate exercise or physical activity to help prevent muscle loss or deformity.
The reason why there are still Polio cases in the world is that not everyone gets vaccinated. So there are still strains of the virus present.
New Virus Dangers
There is a new virus that has surfaced in 2018, that is a polio-esque disease. It is called Acute flaccid myelitis. This is a rare disease that affects the spinal cord and the part of the nervous system that carries messages to and from the brain. This is usually found in children, though in rare cases adults can develop this disease. The exact cause of this disease is unknown. Depending on the systems of the acute flaccid myelitis depends on the treatment course that is given. This year alone there have been 62 cases of this disease reported. In 2018 there were 230 cases in 41 states of the United States. Since there is not a lot of information on this disease and we are still so unsure of what causes it, it is hard to prevent it. It may be helpful to get your children vaccinated for the polio virus though as this Acute flaccid myelitis maybe from some kind of strand of polio virus or an infection along with contacting the polio virus.
Polio may not be a disease that is coming back like mumps and measles has been recently. It does not mean we should stop vaccinating our children. Now that there are new diseases that are polio-esque we will have to make sure we are keeping up to date as our medicine advances to keep us safe from the changes in viruses. In time hopefully there becomes more information on the Acute flaccid myelitis so that way there is more information available as to keeping us safe and preventing this disease of becoming an epidemic.
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