Polio Outbreak

October 30, 2019

The world is changing in more ways than one. People are coming across new facts and ideas every day, whether they are supported by scientific evidence or pseudoscience. An example seen today is the controversy regarding vaccines. Many parents choose not to vaccinate their children due to the believed risks for side effects such as autism, imbalances in the body, and weakened immune systems. On the other hand, “natural vaccines” (letting the child get infected and encouraging their immune system to fight the infection on its own) can lead to serious complications. Many doctors do not recommend doing so, because the initial infection can lead to more detrimental diseases. The Mayo Clinic stated, “Natural chickenpox (varicella) infection could lead to pneumonia. A natural polio infection could cause permanent paralysis.” Polio is still one of the issues that doctors face today.
Polio has been around for hundreds of years. Even though the supposed last naturally occurring case of polio was in 1979, polio is making a comeback in the medical community. Polio mainly affects children under the age of five, but it can also infect older children, teenagers, and adults. Polio is an infection in the nerves that can result in paralysis; it is highly infectious, and the new strain that has shown up is hard to control. There is no cure for polio, only preventative measures can be taken. Paralysis can occur within hours of infection. World Health Organization warned, “As long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio.” Although the amount of reported cases of polio has decreased from 350,000 in 1988 to 33 in 2018, as long as those children remain infected, the numbers could increase by hundreds of thousands over the next ten years. These strongholds are the last remaining strains, and they are proving to be nearly impossible to eradicate.
On the other hand, many children and adults do not know they even have polio. The majority of those infected have no idea they have contracted the virus because the signs and symptoms of the non-paralytic strain last ten days, mimicking that of normal stomach bug and flu symptoms. However, it can still cause central nerve damage and late-onset muscle weakness and fatigue, according to the US National Library of Medicine. This is true for both the abortive strain of the virus, which is a temporary illness, as well as the non-paralytic strain of polio. Although these strains are more common, they still bring along their own set of complications.
The polio strain is transmitted in three main ways, one of them being through stool (feces). Generally, children are not huge fans of washing their hands, especially after using the restroom: that means the virus can travel along easily, everything the children touch can have the virus lying in wait for its next victim. This is especially common in developing countries. For example, the Philippines is still a developing country, and it is still working to improve its waste management and sanitation. They have just reported three cases to the CDC after they had been free of the illness for nearly two decades. It can also happen when children and adults do not get their immunizations. Vaccines help prevent the outbreak of polio since polio cannot be cured. The Philippines have the vaccine, but not enough people have the money to get vaccinated. Thankfully, The Times reported, “[the Philippines] announced plans for a massive immunization program.”
The polio outbreak is not something that people should be worried about now, but if fewer and fewer people get vaccinated, it is going to become a pandemic. Especially with many parents opting to not vaccinate their children, it will become a dangerous issue. Many cases are not fatal or life-threatening but they can be. It would be best to keep polio cases at a minimum. Taking even the smallest steps, such as washing your hands after using the bathroom, can help with the prevention of polio. Vaccinations are also helpful and do not always have to be done through an intravenous injection. Many boosters can be taken orally. Polio is not the illness that needs attention.
Flu season is coming or is already here, and it is ready to make lives hell. The flu gets stronger every year, and the flu shots are becoming less effective, due to the speed that the virus evolves. The flu is a virus, which means that antibiotics cannot be taken to help “cure” the flu. Like polio, it can spread quickly. It can be prevented, though. Washing your hands, covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough, staying hydrated, getting enough rest and stressing less (which seems impossible, but it is doable), and staying home when displaying signs of the flu are great ways to prevent a huge flu outbreak of the flu– and polio, if you are not vaccinated.

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