Sioux Falls Scientists endorse The Polio Crusade for showing us how
science finally provided us a vaccine for this horrible
disease which has virtually wiped it out.
The Polio Crusade
The Polio Crusade (2009) - 60 minutes
The Polio Crusade at Amazon.com
In the summer of 1950 fear gripped the residents of Wytheville, Virginia. Movie theaters shut down, baseball games were cancelled and panicky parents kept their children indoors - anything to keep them safe from an invisible invader. Outsiders sped through town with their windows rolled up and bandanas covering their faces. The ones who couldn't escape the perpetrator were left paralyzed, and some died in the wake of the devastating and contagious virus. Polio had struck in Wytheville. The town was in the midst of a full-blown epidemic. That year alone, more than 33,000 Americans fell victim - half of them under the age of ten.
This American Experience film interweaves the personal accounts of polio survivors with the story of an ardent crusader who tirelessly fought on their behalf while scientists raced to eradicate this dreaded disease. The Polio Crusade features interviews with historians, scientists, polio survivors, and the only surviving scientist from the core research team that developed the Salk vaccine, Julius Youngner.
8-25-20 Africa to be declared free of wild polio in 'milestone'
Africa is to be declared free from wild polio by the independent body, the Africa Regional Certification Commission. Polio usually affects children under five, sometimes leading to irreversible paralysis. Death can occur when breathing muscles are affected. Twenty-five years ago thousands of children in Africa were paralysed by the virus. The disease is now only found in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is no cure but the polio vaccine protects children for life. Nigeria is the last African country to be declared free from wild polio, having accounted for more than half of all global cases less than a decade ago. The vaccination campaign in Nigeria involved a huge effort to reach remote and dangerous places under threat from militant violence and some health workers were killed in the process. Polio is a virus which spreads from person to person, usually through contaminated water. It can lead to paralysis by attacking the nervous system. Two out of three strains of wild polio virus have been eradicated worldwide. On Tuesday, Africa is to be declared free of the last remaining strain of wild poliovirus. More than 95% of Africa's population has now been immunised. This was one of the conditions that the Africa Regional Certification Commission set before declaring the continent free from wild polio. Now only the vaccine-derived polio virus remains in Africa with 177 cases being identified this year. This is a rare form of the virus that mutates from the oral polio vaccine and can then spread to under-immunised communities. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified a number of these cases in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic and Angola. Without a cure a vaccine developed in 1952 by Dr Jonas Salk gave hope that children could be protected from the disease. In 1961, Albert Sabin pioneered the oral polio vaccine which has been used in most national immunisation programmes around the world.
8-23-19 Wild polio has been eradicated in Nigeria but infections will continue
Nigeria has officially wiped out wild polio. It is three years since it had a case caused by the natural polio virus, a heartening milestone for a country that nearly derailed the global drive to eradicate the disease after some regions banned vaccination in 2003. But Faisal Shuaib, head of the country’s public health agency, called only for “cautious euphoria”. Nigeria has not wiped out polio. As first revealed by New Scientist in 2000, the live, weakened virus used in the oral polio vaccine responsible for this week’s victory is circulating and mutating back to its paralysing form. It has caused 15 cases in Nigeria so far this year. There are ways to stop this from happening, but they haven’t been rolled out fast enough, says Michel Zaffran, head of polio at the World Health Organization. Meanwhile there have been three times more cases of wild polio virus this year in Pakistan and Afghanistan, which are now the only countries where it still circulates, than at this time last year, due to a lull in vaccination after a change of government in Pakistan, and a ban on it by the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan is now back on track, says Zaffran. But “we are in a very critical and dangerous situation,” he adds. Polio could roar back worse than ever if these resurgences are not contained. The drive to eradicate polio was based on a cheap, effective oral vaccine containing three strains of live, weakened polio virus. The Type 2 strain replicated faster than the others, provoking the most immunity, and as a result, wild Type 2 polio has been eradicated since 1999. But the Type 2 vaccine virus also tended to survive and circulate, sometimes reverting to the disease-causing form. So in 2016, the whole world shifted to a live vaccine containing only Types 1 and 3. Immunity to those improved, and cases fell.
6-19-19 What are vaccines, how do they work and why are people sceptical?
Vaccines have saved tens of millions of lives in the past century, yet in many countries health experts have identified a trend towards “vaccine hesitancy” – an increasing refusal to use vaccination. The World Health Organization estimates that vaccines prevented at least 10 million deaths in just five years between 2010 and 2015. It says vaccines have been one of the biggest success stories of modern medicine. The World Health Organization (WHO) is so concerned that it has listed this trend as one of the 10 threats to global health in 2019. How was vaccination discovered? Before vaccines existed, the world was a far more dangerous place, with millions dying each year to now preventable illnesses. The Chinese were the first to discover an early form of vaccination in the 10th Century. Eight centuries later, British doctor Edward Jenner noticed how milkmaids caught mild cowpox, but rarely went on to contract the deadly smallpox. In 1796 Jenner carried out an experiment on eight-year-old James Phipps. The doctor inserted pus from a cowpox wound into the boy, who soon developed symptoms. Once Phipps had recovered, Jenner inserted smallpox into the boy but he remained healthy. The cowpox had made him immune. In 1798, the results were published and the word vaccine - from the Latin 'vacca' for cow - was coined. What have been the successes? Vaccines have helped drastically reduce the damage done by many diseases in the past century. About 2.6m people were dying from measles every year before the first vaccination for the disease was introduced in the 1960s. Vaccination resulted in an 80% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2017 worldwide, according to the WHO. Only a few decades ago, paralysis or death was a very real concern as millions fell victim to polio. Now polio has almost disappeared.
5-10-19 Every country worldwide is now using the most effective polio vaccine
Mongolia and Zimbabwe have added the inactivated polio vaccine to their routine immunisation programmes. They were the last two countries in the world not to use this form of the vaccine. Polio is a contagious viral infection that mainly affects young children and can lead to paralysis or death. It has been largely contained throughout Europe, the Americas, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific, and cases have fallen from 350,000 in 1988 to just 33 reported cases in 2018, according to the World Health Organisation. That decrease has predominantly been due to the oral polio vaccine, which contains a weakened form of the virus that triggers the immune system to create antibodies to fight off the disease. This form of the vaccine is effective but in rare cases it can mutate and cause vaccine-derived poliovirus. The inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) creates antibodies that can better enter the central nervous system and provide more protection, but must be administered through injection by a trained health worker. Three countries have large outbreaks of wild poliovirus – Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria – though Nigeria hasn’t reported any cases due to wild poliovirus in 2019 yet. Afghanistan has had 7 cases of wild poliovirus this year and Pakistan has had 11. In both countries, resistance to the vaccine is fierce and has resulted in outbreaks of violence and attacks that have led to the deaths of health workers administering it. Pakistan’s health minister Zafar Mirza said in a statement that pockets of under-immunised children are allowing the virus to survive, but it could be possible to end transmission of the disease by the end of the year.
11-13-18 U.S. cases of a polio-like illness rise, but there are few clues to its cause
The CDC has confirmed 90 cases of acute flaccid myelitis out of 252 suspected cases. The cause of a rare polio-like disease continues to elude public health officials even as the number of U.S. cases grows. Confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis cases have risen to 90 in 27 states, out of a possible 252 under investigation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced November 13. That’s up from 62 confirmed cases out of 127 suspected just a month ago (SN Online: 10/16/18). There were a record 149 cases in 2016. “I understand parents want answers,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases in Atlanta, said at a news conference. The agency continues to investigate the disease, which causes weakness in one or more limbs and primarily affects children. But “right now the science doesn’t give us an answer,” she said. A deep dive into 80 of the confirmed cases offered some details about the course of AFM. In most, fever or respiratory symptoms like coughing and congestion, or both, preceded limb weakness by three to 10 days. Most cases involved weakness in an upper limb, researchers report online November 13 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Only two samples of cerebrospinal fluid — the clear fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord — tested positive for a pathogen, each for a different enterovirus. Since 2014, when the first big outbreak of AFM occurred, most AFM spinal fluid samples haven’t produced a culprit, Messonnier said. The body may clear the pathogen or it hides in tissues, she said, or the body’s own immune response to a pathogen may lead to spinal cord damage.
10-26-18 A mysterious polio-like disease
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning the public about a surge of cases of a rare and mysterious polio-like disease that mostly affects children and can result in paralysis. The agency said last week that it had confirmed 62 cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) across 22 states since the start of the year, reports CBSNews.com. More than 90 percent of those were in children, with the average sufferer being 4 years old. Another 65 possible cases are under investigation. Health officials have been closely monitoring the disease since 2014. Every year since then, normally in late summer, there has been a spike in cases—a pattern that has left researchers baffled. Scientists are still uncertain how AFM, which affects the nervous system, is transmitted. Symptoms include weakened muscles and reflexes, and in some cases paralysis; one child with the disorder died in 2017. Nancy Messonnier, a top official at the CDC, emphasized that the disease was still extremely rare. But she said the agency wanted to raise awareness of the condition and encourage parents to seek immediate medical care if their kids showed any weakness or loss of muscle tone in their limbs.
10-16-18 A mysterious polio-like disease has sickened as many as 127 people in the U.S.
There is no cure for acute flaccid myelitis, and the CDC can’t figure out what’s causing it. U.S. health officials are investigating an outbreak of a mysterious, polio-like disease that causes weakness in one or more limbs. The rare disease — acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM — has sickened 62 people, mostly children, in 22 states so far this year and is suspected in 65 more cases, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced October 16. Starting with an outbreak of 120 cases that brought the disease to national attention in 2014, close to 400 cases have been confirmed in the United States. So far, the CDC has been unable to figure out what’s causing the outbreaks. “This is a mystery,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases in Atlanta, said during a news briefing. “We haven’t solved it yet.” Although the disease is frightening, fewer than one in a million people in the United States get AFM every year, based on CDC data collected since 2014. “Parents need to know that acute flaccid myelitis is very rare, even with the increase in cases that we’re seeing now,” she said. Even so, the CDC recommends that patients who develop sudden weakness in their arms or legs seek immediate medical care.
- What is acute flaccid myelitis? The disease targets the spinal cord, leading to arm or leg weakness and loss of muscle tone.
- What causes AFM? The CDC is investigating viruses and environmental toxins as possible causes, but has yet to find a single agent responsible for the peaks in cases this year and in 2014 and 2016, when 149 cases were confirmed.
- Is there a treatment for AFM? There is no cure or specific medical treatment for AFM.
- Are there factors that increase the risk of AFM? That still isn’t known.
6-26-18 Poliovirus treatment helped patients with deadly brain tumors live longer
A modified form of the virus increased survival in some people with glioblastoma. Few treatment options are available to people facing a second battle with a particularly fatal type of brain tumor called glioblastoma. But dosing the tumor with a genetically modified poliovirus — one that doesn’t cause the eponymous, devastating disease — may give these patients more time, a small clinical study suggests. Of 61 people with recurring glioblastoma who were treated with the modified virus, 21 percent were alive after three years. In a “historical” comparison group of 104 patients, who would have been eligible for the treatment but died before it was available, 4 percent lived as long, researchers report online June 26 in the New England Journal of Medicine. Two patients who received the altered virus are still alive today, six years after treatment. “They’ve been able to lead largely normal lives, and we almost never see that with these brain tumors,” says neuro-oncologist and study coauthor Darell Bigner of Duke University Medical Center. The standard treatment for glioblastoma is surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, but the cancer often recurs, Bigner says. Usually patients do not survive longer than 20 months after being diagnosed; those with a recurrence typically live less than a year.
6-26-18 Papua New Guinea polio outbreak declared
An outbreak of polio has been confirmed in Papua New Guinea, 18 years after the country was declared free of the disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the virus was detected in a six-year-old boy in April. The same strain of the virus has now been detected in other healthy children in the same community, making it officially an outbreak. Polio has no cure and can lead to irreversible paralysis. It mainly affects children under the age of five, and can only be prevented by giving a child multiple vaccine doses. "We are deeply concerned about this polio case in Papua New Guinea, and the fact that the virus is circulating," said Pascoe Kase, Papua New Guinea's heath secretary. "Our immediate priority is to respond and prevent more children from being infected." The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at the end of last week that the same virus that was found in the six-year-old boy was also found in samples taken from two healthy children in the same community, the WHO said. This means the virus is circulating in the community, representing an outbreak, it added. Immediate steps to stop the spread of the highly contagious disease include large-scale immunisation campaigns and strengthening surveillance systems that help detect it early. Papua New Guinea has not had a case of wild poliovirus since 1996, and the country was certified as polio-free in 2000 along with the rest of the WHO Western Pacific Region.
2-22-18 Vaccines Work!
Progress, after the World Health Organization predicted that polio will finally be eradicated “once and for all” in 2018. Last year, there were only 22 reported new cases of the disease, which paralyzed or killed millions of children in the 20th century.
8-15-17 Plants 'hijacked' to make polio vaccine
Plants 'hijacked' to make polio vaccine
Plants have been "hijacked" to make polio vaccine in a breakthrough with the potential to transform vaccine manufacture, say scientists. The team at the John Innes Centre, in Norfolk, says the process is cheap, easy and quick. As well as helping eliminate polio, the scientists believe their approach could help the world react to unexpected threats such as Zika virus or Ebola. Experts said the achievement was both impressive and important. The vaccine is an "authentic mimic" of poliovirus called a virus-like particle. Outwardly it looks almost identical to poliovirus but - like the difference between a mannequin and person - it is empty on the inside. It has all the features needed to train the immune system, but none of the weapons to cause an infection. The scientists hijacked a relative of the tobacco plant's metabolism to turn its leaves into polio-vaccine "factories".
4-17-16 Vaccine switched in 'milestone' towards ending polio
Vaccine switched in 'milestone' towards ending polio
More than 150 countries have begun switching to a different polio vaccine - an important milestone towards polio eradication, health campaigners say. The new vaccine will target the two remaining strains of the virus under a switchover 18 months in the planning. There were just 74 cases of the paralysing disease in 2015 and there have been 10 so far this year. (Webmaster's comment: Thanks to polio vaccine this disease has almost been eradicated. No thanks to vaccine deniers other diseases have not.)
5-16-16 Pakistan could beat polio in months, says WHO
Pakistan could beat polio in months, says WHO
Polio could be eradicated in Pakistan within months, health officials say, as a mass vaccination drive is launched. A World Health Organisation spokesman told the BBC only a handful of cases have been reported this year in Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan. The two countries are the last places where polio remains endemic. It is hoped millions of children will be vaccinated over three days. Police escorts will guard against Islamist militants who oppose immunisations.
The Polio Crusade
Sioux Falls Scientists endorse The Polio Crusade for showing us how
science finally provided us a vaccine for this horrible
disease which has virtually wiped it out.