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Polio Today, Expanded Immunization

Last polio cases
In 1991, the Pan American Health Organization located the last wild-type polio case in the Western Hemisphere—a nine-year-old boy in Peru. The last person to contract wild-polio in the western Pacific region occurred in 1997, and in Europe in 1998.

Left photo. Melik Minas looking at the camera with other children looking on
Right photo. Luis Fermin Tenorio standing in front of a bronze sculpture
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Left: Melik Minas, the last person to contract polio in Europe, Turkey, 1998 Courtesy of Rotary International
Right: Luis Fermin Tenorio, the last person to contract polio in the Western Hemisphere, Peru, 1991 Courtesy of Jean-Marc Giboux, photographer

“Global health officials are bracing for the worst polio epidemic in years in west and central Africa, and they are scrambling for funds to prevent a continent-wide disaster. The situation, although not unexpected, turned grim with this week’s report of 60 new cases in Nigeria, the source of the epidemic, for a total of 257 by 22 June, and confirmation that poliovirus had jumped from that reservoir across to conflict-ravaged Sudan, where there had been no cases for 3 years.”
Science, July 2, 2004

Rotary members in yellow hats listening to a local official speak
Rotary International members meeting with local officials in the state of Kano, Nigeria Courtesy of Jean-Marc Giboux, photographer

As a countermeasure, vaccine for use in Nigeria was transferred to a producer in Indonesia, another predominantly Muslim country, and Nigerian commissions studied the safety of the vaccines. Vaccination eventually resumed, but not before twelve polio-free countries reported cases genetically linked to the poliovirus circulating in Nigeria.

According to the World Health Organization, 1,500 people die of an infectious disease every hour.

“There has been little or no polio immunization in Nigeria’s northern states for more than a year because of rumors that the vaccine is a tool in a global plot to sterilize Muslims.”
—Washington Post, July 2004

Childhood Vaccination in the United States
In the United States, 86 percent of children are current in all of their vaccinations. The low figure is partly accounted for by groups who object to vaccination for religious or other reasons. In addition, most parents today have no memory of the serious childhood diseases of a generation ago.

Use of oral polio vaccine carries the risk that 1 in 2.4 million doses will result in vaccine-associated paralytic polio. As a consequence, pediatricians in the United States for the most part have used injected polio vaccine since 1999.

Diseases Preventable by Immunization, 2004
Adenoviruses (military use only)
Anthrax (military use only)
Botulism (antitoxin and immunoglobulin, not vaccines)
Chicken pox
Cholera
Diphtheria
Haemophilus influenzae type b
Hepatitis A, B, and C
Hookworm
Influenza A, B, and C
Japanese encephalitis
Lyme disease
Measles
Meningococcal meningitis
Mumps
Pertussis
Plague
Pneumonia (polysaccharides against 23 types of pneumococcal infections)
Polio
Q fever
Rabies
Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Rotavirus (causing epidemic gastroenteritis)
Rubella
Rubeola
Smallpox
Tetanus
Tuberculosis
Typhoid fever
Typhus
Yellow fever
Mum Chanty sitting on his mother's lap

Mum Chanty, the last person to contract polio in the western Pacific region, Cambodia, 1997 Courtesy of Rotary International

Immunization schedule poster
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Recommended Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule—United States, 2004

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    Bill Sergeant, 2004  
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