The Road to Making Polio a Disease of the Past

April 9, 2015 9:30 PM

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The Road to Making Polio a Disease of the Past

Polio, the contagious viral disease that can cause paralysis, breathing problems, even death, is no longer present in the United States. At its peak, polio was reported to occur in over 350,000 people every year around the world. By 2014 there were only 359 cases reported, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This was accomplished by a massive polio vaccination effort that continues today, using the two polio vaccines -- a live oral vaccine and a killed, injectable vaccine. By 2018, the World Health Organization hopes to have eradicated polio throughout the world.

But in 2000, an unexpected problem arose that could hamper that timeline. One of the two types of polio vaccines -- the live, oral version -- can actually cause paralysis itself, just like natural poliovirus. In rare instances -- about one in a million doses -- the live oral poliovirus vaccine, whic...

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