Polio cases have been reduced by 99% in 15 years

Universal vaccination has significantly reduced the incidence of many diseases. One of them is poliomyelitis, an infectious disease that attacks the nervous system causing paralysis in a few hours, and sometimes, the death of the patient by paralyzing the respiratory muscles. Now, thanks to vaccination, cases of polio have been reduced by 99 percent, from the estimated 350,000 cases in 1988 to the 416 reported in 2013 worldwide.

Europe, free of poliomyelitis

On the occasion of the celebration of the World Day of the fight against Poliomyelitis, on October 24, the World Health Organization (WHO), recalls that one out of every 200 poliomyelitis infections produces irreversible paralysis, mostly of the legs , and 5% -10% of these cases die due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles.


Currently, thanks to the vaccination campaigns against polio, we can speak of a polio-free Europe since 2002, as well as control of the disease in the most developed countries.

In Spain polio has been controlled since 1904. The last case of polio dates from 1988 and was caused by a wild poliovirus. In 2005, a case of polio produced by a poliovirus that derived from the oral vaccine of a Moroccan child in his country was detected. The child suffered from a severe immunodeficiency and developed a paralytic condition.

As for the vaccine, the combined injectable vaccine is currently administered in Spain. It is present in the official vaccination calendar of all the autonomous communities. This vaccine is injected in 4 doses before one and a half years of age. Vaccination coverage covers more than 90% in all the Autonomous Communities since 1966, in 2014 the percentage of primary vaccination coverage was 96.6% and the percentage of reinforcement vaccination coverage of 94.8%.


However, there is also another type of oral polio vaccine that can be administered by anyone, including volunteers.

Poliomyelitis, a disease without a cure that can be eradicated

Although polio is a disease that still has no cure, it can be eradicated thanks to the vaccine, since the virus dies if it does not find an unvaccinated person to infect.

Precisely, it was in 1988 when the WHO launched the Global Initiative for the Eradication of Polio and 5 years later, in 2013, approved the Strategic Plan for the Eradication of Polio. Its objective was that all countries introduce in their vaccination programs a dose of IPV (injectable polio vaccine) that complements the two previous doses of the oral vaccine (OPV). In addition to achieving the reduction of cases worldwide by 99 percent, this year, Nigeria, has added this list of polio-free countries, although WHO has not yet issued an official communication.


In addition, vaccination and efforts to eradicate the disease are accompanied by significant economic savings. According to recent estimates, in the next 20 years it is expected to save at least 30,000 to 50,000 million euros, mainly in low-income countries.

Polio and infection among children

The main symptoms of polio are fever, tiredness, headache, vomiting, stiff neck and pain in the limbs. It especially affects children under 5 years of age and it is easily transmitted as it is transmitted from person to person, via fecal-oral route and sometimes through contaminated water or food, which means that once a child is infected, the The rest of the unvaccinated children run the risk of contracting the virus. Concretely, this is what has happened in Ukraine, a country where WHO has announced the transmission of two children for polio and the threat of an outbreak, since vaccination coverage reaches only 50 percent of children.

Marisol Nuevo Espín

Video: A polio-free world with everyone's commitment


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