Surviving Polio is a documentary film about the success story of Polio survivors from South Africa and the leaps that the Polio vaccine has made to date.
On 24 October, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NCID) commemorates World Polio Day in order to raise awareness about Polio. Poliomyelitis (commonly referred to as Polio) is a highly infectious disease which mostly occurs among children below five years of age. The disease is communicable, spreading between people mainly via the faecal-oral route. It typically attacks the nervous system, leading to paralysis in about 1 in 200 infected persons. While we have yet to find a cure for Polio, there are preventative vaccines which have been established as both safe and effective. While the number of cases has been drastically reduced and only two countries (Afghanistan and Pakistan) are still considered polio endemic, every un- or under-vaccinated child below the age of five is considered to be at risk of contracting Polio.
Johan van den Berg
The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) would like to provide you with more information relating to this disease:
- Caused by the poliovirus, Polio can spread between individuals, infecting the spinal cord and causing paralysis.
- In 1905, the Swedish physician, Ivar Wickman, published his findings on Polio. These included that Polio was infectious, and that most individuals who are infected with Polio don’t suffer from a severe form of the disease.
- While it was found that Polio was caused by the poliovirus, it wasn’t until the 1950s that we were first able to view the virus under the lens of an electron microscope.
- Polio can not only paralyse the muscles of arms or legs, but can actually effect the diaphragm and muscles used to control breathing.
- The need to treat Polio contributed to the invention of the artificial respirator.
- The poliovirus comes in three serotypes (a serologically distinguishable strain of a microorganism): poliovirus 1 (PV1), poliovirus 2 (PV2), and poliovirus 3 (PV3).
- Some strains of the poliovirus (simian) have been found in certain animal species (such as apes and monkeys), though it is not zoonotic (passed between humans and animals).
- Areas of overcrowding, poor sanitation and low vaccination coverage are generally considered to be high risk areas for contracting Polio.
NICD honours a few Polio survivors by sharing their stories with you. Click on the individual videos below to hear what they have to say!