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Chapter 4 : Polio: the Rise and Fall of a Disease

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Abstract:

This chapter talks about the various polio eradication initiatives around the globe. The eradication of polio, in spite of the genuine progress made so far, is by no means certain. The polio eradication campaign began in 1988; the original goal for its completion was set for 2003. Like malaria and smallpox eradication, polio eradication is both a medical and a political enterprise. It is concerned with a specific pathogen and a specific set of victims, but is also a test of international resolve—a test of the very notion of global eradication. The polio vaccine contains live virus, attenuated in its ability to cause disease but able to infect and immunize its recipients. In one out of every two million or so children immunized, the vaccine virus reverts to full virulence and causes the disease it's supposed to prevent. In the 1960s the World Health Organization (WHO) began to advocate live-virus vaccine, one that could be taken orally, and in so doing took the first small steps toward a global polio eradication plan. The current global polio immunization program costs $US 1.5 billion annually; the officials who set immunization policy have to wonder where that money will come from beyond 2005. The chapter also discusses the STOP (Stop Transmission of Polio) attempt for polio eradication.

Citation: Needham C, Canning R. 2003. Polio: the Rise and Fall of a Disease, p 77-115. In Global Disease Eradication. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817862.ch4
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