Polio is a highly infectious disease that is caused by a virus -the poliomyelitis virus. It is a crippling disease that can occur in adults but is most common in children especially those under 5 years of age.

The virus is passed from person to person mainly through the faeco-oral transmission (when people eat food or drink water contaminated by faeces). The infection begins in the intestine and once established can enter the blood stream and invades the CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM.

In one of every 200 cases it can kill the nerve cells that activate the muscles. It begins with the milder forms with a slight fever and within 2-3 days the child develops a headache, stiff neck and muscle pain with an increase in the fever intensity. Paralysis of the arms, face or chest occurs and the use of one or both legs or arms may be lost and breathing may be impossible, leading to death in some cases,

It can be spread very easily and nearly all children living in households where someone is infected become infected, persons are most likely to spread the virus 7 to 10 days before and 7 to 10 days after they first experience symptoms of the disease. [The incubation period, ranges from 3 days to 35 days)

The signs and symptoms of the disease are fever, loose stool, sore throat, stomach upset, headache and also pain or stiffness in the neck, back and legs with final paralysis of either upper or lower limbs.

Laboratory testing of the stools is used to confirm cases of polio.

There is no cure for polio and its effects are NOT reversible. The best treatment is prevention – a few drops of a powerful vaccine will protect a child for life.

The Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) should be given at:

* Birth

* 6 weeks of age

* 10 weeks of age

* 14 weeks of age

This is the complete schedule for OPV but every child 0-5yrs must be given OPV during all supplemental campaigns such as NIPDs.

Fortunately, it is possible to completely eradicate this disease and other childhood killer diseases because people are the only vectors (carriers) of the disease-Although polio is highly infectious, it rarely causes distinctive symptoms. Up to 200 people can be infected before a paralytic case finally signals an outbreak. Less than a decade ago 10,000 children were paralyzed in a single epidemic in China. Imagine that happening in your community.

This is why we must persuade our neighbour who is resisting vaccination of his/her child to desist from that because it poses danger to all Abia children.

Prevention is the most effective method to avoid poliomyelitis and other childhood killer diseases.

It is our fervent belief that with high routine immunization coverage and supplemental Immunization-Polio and all the other childhood killer diseases will be kicked out of Abia state in particular and Nigeria in general.