Do People Still Get Polio?


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Kath Senior answered
Very few people in the world still get polio thanks to a worldwide vaccination programme over the last twenty years or so. As recently as 1948, polio caused 241 deaths in England and Wales and was a serious endemic childhood disease.

Children were usually affected and they developed a fever, headache, upset stomach and stiffness of the neck but these relatively non-specific symptoms lasted only a few days. Many children just recovered but others went on to develop paralysis or meningitis. The paralysis could affect the legs – some children had then to wear callipers and were permanently disabled – or the respiratory system. If this happened, the paralysis stopped the person being able to breathe for themselves and the only way to keep the alive was by using an artificial respirator – in the 1950s this was an iron lung.

Vaccination has removed polio from the developed world and the World Health Organisation has been pushing in the last few years to totally eradicate the disease from the developing world as well. They are very close to success.

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