2015 World Polio Day: October 23, 2015
Join Rotary and UNICEF for a Livestream event
6:30 EDT, October 23.

With over 1.2 million members, Rotary Clubs worldwide have dedicated themselves to ending polio. To date, through to advocacy and fundraising efforts, Rotary has contributed more than $1.3 billion in support of polio immunization activities.


Rotary members around the world have engaged their communities in unique ways to raise awareness for eradicating this devastating disease. One of the greatest assets in the fight to end polio is the determination of Rotary’s members and its partners around the globe.

Polio has been reduced by 99 percent and we are closer than ever to ending this crippling disease forever. Join Rotary on Monday, February 23 for it’s 110th anniversary and help us celebrate the 30th anniversary of the PolioPlus program in 2015 by spreading the word throughout your local community. 

Polio and prevention

Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. There is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines. The strategy to eradicate polio is therefore based on preventing infection by immunizing every child until transmission stops and the world is polio-free.

The disease

Polio (poliomyelitis) is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It invades the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis in a matter of hours. An Indian boy’s legs are shrunken from paralysis caused by polio WHO/T. Moran

Who is at risk?

Polio can strike at any age, but it mainly affects children under five years old.


Polio is spread through person-to-person contact. When a child is infected with wild poliovirus, the virus enters the body through the mouth and multiplies in the intestine. It is then shed into the environment through the faeces where it can spread rapidly through a community, especially in situations of poor hygiene and sanitation. If a sufficient number of children are fully immunized against polio, the virus is unable to find susceptible children to infect, and dies out. Young children who are not yet toilet-trained are a ready source of transmission, regardless of their environment. Polio can be spread when food or drink is contaminated by faeces. There is also evidence that flies can passively transfer poliovirus from faeces to food. Most people infected with the poliovirus have no signs of illness and are never aware they have been infected. These symptomless people carry the virus in their intestines and can “silently” spread the infection to thousands of others before the first case of polio paralysis emerges. For this reason, WHO considers a single confirmed case of polio paralysis to be evidence of an epidemic – particularly in countries where very few cases occur.
An Indian boy’s legs are
shrunken from paralysis caused
by polio. WHO/T. Moran



Most infected people (90%) have no symptoms or very mild symptoms and usually go unrecognized. In others, initial symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs.

Post-polio syndrome

Around 40% of people who survive paralytic polio may develop additional symptoms 15–40 years after the original illness. These symptoms – called post-polio syndrome – include new progressive muscle weakness, severe fatigue and pain in the muscles and joints.

Risk factors for paralysis

No one knows why only a small percentage of infections lead to paralysis. Several key risk factors have been identified as increasing the likelihood of paralysis in a person infected with polio. These include:

  • immune deficiency
  • pregnancy
  • removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy)
  • intramuscular injections, e.g. medications
  • strenuous exercise
  • injury.

Treatment and prevention

There is no cure for polio, only treatment to alleviate the symptoms.  Heat and physical therapy is used to stimulate the muscles and antispasmodic drugs are given to relax the muscles. While this can improve mobility, it cannot reverse permanent polio paralysis.  Polio can be prevented through immunization. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, almost always protects a child for life.

- See more at: http://www.polioeradication.org/Polioandprevention.aspx#sthash.8w5PdhEm.dpuf