PPASSBC endorses the immunization for all preventable diseases.

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Post Polio Syndrome

Many individuals who contracted poliomyelitis earlier in their lives began to report new health problems that were similar to polio but often occurring on their "good side". This has been established to be the late effects of polio but the most accepted name is Post Polio Syndrome or PPS.

Polio and Post Polio Syndrome

Poliomyelitis is a very old disease the earliest recorded case was 1580 BC. It is caused by a virus that is extremely stable, highly virulent and easily ingested by others.

Polio epidemics raged in North America for 100 years killing, paralyzing and laming children. From 1927 until 1962more than 50,000 Canadians were known to be infected and thousands died, however Health Canada tells us actual numbers are much higher.

Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer has stated: “If we had never eradicated polio in North America we would not even be TALKING about hip and knee surgery today as they would be SECONDARY to the damage caused by polio. It is likely that every orthopedic surgeon we could train would be too occupied treating the after-effects of polio”.

Do we still need immunization in Canada today - you bet we do! Polio is merely ONE plane trip away from us and that means a few hours until it can arrive and attack those who are unprotected.

An infected person can spread polio from 7-10 days before and after the onset of symptoms and the virus can be excreted in feces for another three to six weeks.

REMEMBER - there is still no cure for polio - maintaining a high level of immunization is the single most effective protection.

What might happen if you get polio? Most who contract polio will have little or no symptoms at all. For those unlucky ones, the first symptoms may mimic the flu with fever, muscle weakness, headache and nausea. The next stage would likely be a stiff neck and back and severe muscle pain. Finally paralysis! If it is in your legs and arms you cannot move but if it occurs in your muscles for breathing and swallowing and without an iron lung it may be fatal.

The summers of those polio epidemics were a terrible time. Everyone was afraid of polio. Swimming pools and movie theatres were closed and children were not allowed to take part in the usual summer activities.

When polio did strike and a child was taken to hospital they were then placed in isolation. Those isolation wards were terrifying for a child with no parents for reassurance and security. They felt alone and vulnerable in a world of uniforms, pungent smells and strange machines. Rehabilitation was long and difficult, learning to stand and walk for a second time. Most were lucky enough to return home but many would spend years in the hospital.

Finally, the development of polio vaccines which meant the end of epidemics in North America and people moved on with their lives. About 35 years after polio there is a new problem, Post Polio Syndrome. The motor neurons that took over muscles orphaned by polio are failing and polio survivors must turn once more to canes, walkers and wheel chairs for mobility while others will again require mechanical help just to breathe.

We survived polio and now we have to face Post Polio Syndrome which is permanent and progressive and it is caused by POLIO! Stop polio and you will also stop Post Polio Syndrome.

Dr. Jonas Salk creator of the polio vaccine said

“Hope lies in dreams, in imagination and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.”

PPASS BC proudly salutes Rotary International and their Polio Plus Program, Centres for Disease Control, World Health Organization, UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, sponsors and governments throughout the world who have taken on the largest public health initiative the world has known.

They have dared to accept the task of immunizing the children of the world against polio. They dream of a polio-free world.