There is now a final push to eradicate polio for good. Recently 150 countries joined forces and switched to a different polio vaccine. This new vaccine will target the two remaining strains of the polio virus. This switch has been in planning for the last 18 months.
Around 77 cases of polio were reported in 2015 and the number declined to 10 in 2016. All the polio cases this year have been reported in Pakistan and Afghanistan. After a hard battle, the African continent has been free of polio for more than 12 months.
The polio vaccine that has been in use for more than three decades has played an important role in the fight against polio. Switching to a new vaccine has thus been a huge undertaking and has involved thousands of people who will be monitoring the change-over as it occurs in nearly 155 countries. Most of the countries involved in the switch are developed countries but wealthy countries like Mexico and Russia are also included in this transition. This new vaccine will not include the weakened version of the type 2 polio virus which was eradicated nearly 17 years ago. The current vaccine targets the live weakened virus that is related to the 3 types of polio.
Polio was once an endemic disorder. It is basically an infectious disorder caused by a virus and primarily affects children under the age of 5. Once it invades the nervous system, it usually causes complete paralysis within a matter of hours. The initial symptoms of the infection may include a headache, fever, vomiting, fatigue, pain in the limbs and neck stiffness. Every one in 200 infections lead to permanent paralysis and at least 10% of these individuals die because of paralysis of the breathing muscles.
Even though this new vaccine is being used, the stockpiles of the old vaccine will not be destroyed just yet in case of any future outbreaks. As the world gets closer to getting rid of polio for good, eventually three will be no need for the old polio vaccine, but that time has yet to come. To many people in the developed world, polio is not an area of concern but the disease has caused havoc in many parts of the world in the past.