POLIO is a highly infectious disease caused by the poliovirus.
It lives in the feaces of an infected person and spreads from person to person through poor hygiene practices and when consuming contaminated food or water.
This virus can spread through respiratory droplets when coming to close contact with an infected person who coughs or sneezes.
Polio infection mainly results in a mild illness that causes symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea, muscle stiffness and pain.
In rare cases, polio infection can cause major illness that affect the central nervous system, lead to life-long paralysis and in some cases death.
Today the disease is 99.9 per cent eradicated thanks to tireless global efforts.
But without total elimination, it continues to be a threat in the world’s most vulnerable regions and Papua New Guinea.
In 2019, we saw increases in polio outbreaks in many provinces and with cases reported in some countries that hadn’t seen cases for decades.
The discovery by Karl Landsteiner and Erwin Popper in 1908 that polio was caused by virus inoculating macaque monkeys with an extract of nervous tissue from polio victims.
Polio is a disease that has lifelong health consequences.
The poliovirus is a concern to public health because it spreads easily – it can circulate without causing symptoms for weeks and so can travel great distances, entering polio-free areas by land, sea or air travel.
Although many countries have eradicated polio through vaccination programmes, the disease has re-emerged because of inadequate control.
To minimise the risk of polio, we should protect ourselves by caring out effective vaccinations and by adhering to proper precautions in relation to polio vaccinations and to make sure all the population are alert and safe.
The polio network is used to analyse other diseases that are likely to cause epidemics but can be prevented through vaccination.
Examples include influenza, measles, meningitis, rubella, and yellow fever.
A Word Health Organisation emergency committee, which met last December, expressed concern that the trend of cases does not appear to be slowing.
It reiterated that polio continues to be public health emergency of international concern .
Polio, along with smallpox, severe acute respiratory syndrome and new influenza subtypes are all preventable.
Therefore, it is a wakeup call for Papua New Guineans and health authorities to remain alert to respond to any outbreak.
This is vital to get rid of polio.
Together we can make PNG polio free.