The Polio Vaccine Story

Most younger people in modern times will not know anything about polio unless it is read in a textbook or is part of one of their parent’s stories. However, this condition was extremely prevalent less than a century ago. The reason that it has seemingly disappeared in such a short time is due to two distinct factors. The first was the invention of the polio vaccine by Jonas Salk. The second reason is that the World Health Organization has made the eradication of polio one of its top priorities. While there are still some cases in Nigeria and the southern part of Asia, the condition is gone from the majority of the world.

As polio spread over the world in the 1940s, many teams were working on a solution. The first to hit the market was Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine. His version of the polio vaccine was followed by many others in the following years. However, the vaccine made by Jonas Salk has remained one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of this condition. It works by introducing a dead poliovirus into the person. The body responds by developing antibodies and these are present in case the person later comes into contact with a living poliovirus cell.

When the World Health Organization teamed with the Rotary Foundation in 1988, the demise of polio was only a matter of time. With immunization shots being provided to people across the globe, the rate of infection dropped quickly down to only 483 reported cases in the year of 2001. Once the eradication of the condition is complete, it will mark the third time that men have been able to completely conquer a disease, after smallpox and rinderpest. With eradication efforts being pushed in India and Nigeria, most experts believe that the end of polio will come in only a few years.

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