When I was a kid the only thing as scary as the polio epidemic was practicing getting under our desks for a nuclear attack…

It was 1952 and we lived in Haddonfield, New Jersey and the public swimming pool was closed for the duration. A town in full panic!

So today’s New York Times article on a polio outbreak in Syria is particularly disconcerting.
Polio Paralyzes 17 Children in Syria, W.H.O. Says (A)
“The polio virus, once thought to verge on eradication, is one of the most contagious diseases in inadequately protected areas. One confirmed case of paralysis is considered an outbreak, as doctors assume it means up to 200 other people may have been exposed to the virus.”…..
“Unlike Syria’s first polio outbreak in 2013, caused by a wild strain that paralyzed 36 children before it was brought under control, the new outbreak derived from the polio vaccine itself…..
The vaccine, a weakened form of the polio virus that triggers the immune system’s response, is secreted in the waste of vaccinated children, and over time can mutate into an infectious strain that may afflict the unvaccinated. The risks are especially high in areas where not all children have received the vaccine and where the mutated virus can spread from contaminated sewage or water.”

A 2012 article noted:
“In 1952 alone, nearly 60,000 children were infected with the virus; thousands were paralyzed, and more than 3,000 died. Hospitals set up special units with iron lung machines to keep polio victims alive. Rich kids as well as poor were left paralyzed.
Then in 1955, the U.S. began widespread vaccinations. By 1979, the virus had been completely eliminated across the country.
Now polio is on the verge of being eliminated from the world. The virus remains endemic in only two parts of the globe: northern Nigeria and the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.” (B)

In a world full of conflict such Syria, Iraq and Yemen (C) are we likely to see a broad reemergence of polio?

 

Are we prepared for emerging viruses?
“Whatever the explanation, hepatitis C (1989), West Nile virus (1999), SARS (2003), Chikungunya (2005), swine flu (2009), MERS (2012), Ebola (2014) and Zika (2015) have all since had their time in the media spotlight. A further 33 diseases have featured in the World Health Organization’s Disease Outbreak News since its inception in 1996. Of the “big eight” listed above, six are known zoonotic diseases – and the remaining two (hepatitis C and Chikungunya) are assumed to be so, although the animal reservoir remains undiscovered.”

To learn more click on http://doctordidyouwashyourhands.com/2017/05/ebola-is-back-in-africa-is-zika-next-are-we-prepared/
ZIKA UPDATE #1. EBOLA is back in Africa. Is ZIKA next? Are we prepared?
Lesson Learned from recent EBOLA and ZIKA episodes. We need to designate REGIONAL EMERGING VIRUSES REFERRAL CENTERS (REVRCs).

 

 

 

(A) Polio Paralyzes 17 Children in Syria, W.H.O. Says by Rick Gladstone, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/20/world/middleeast/syria-polio-children-paralyzed.html
(B) Wiping Out Polio: How The U.S. Snuffed Out A Killer by Jason Beaubien, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2012/10/16/162670836/wiping-out-polio-how-the-u-s-snuffed-out-a-killer
(C) 10 Conflicts to Watch in 2017 by Jean-Marie Guéhenno, http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/01/05/10-conflicts-to-watch-in-2017/

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