Sunday, 21 April 2013

Medicine at its best - Defeating polio

A report just out in the British Medical Journal announces that the world could be free of polio by 2018. In fact, one prediction is that the last case may be in 2014. This is wonderful news as medicine excels in eradicating such a terrible disease.

Polio was not unusual here in the UK when I was a child. A neighbour’s child contracted polio when I was just 4 years old. At that time I became suddenly very ill, reached a temperature or 106 F (that’s a colossal 41.1 C) and was of course delirious. As it was assumed that I too had polio I was rushed into what was then termed an “isolation hospital”. 

Fortunately (in comparison), it transpired that I had a serious case of measles and had not been infected with the polio virus - and was thus spared its crippling effects - and fully recovered.

I have clear memories of the hospital. I was behind a glass screen so visitors could only view me at a distance. I recall a small multi-coloured plastic train on my bed-side locker, an aunt peering through the window, and the fact that all my toys had to be destroyed when I left as this was an isolation hospital.

I say a lot in my web site about the risks of medications and how drug companies can have their sights set more on profits than the public’s health. But with the polio vaccine this is surely a time to celebrate! 

(The image shows a 14th century BC Egyptian with what appears to be a polio disability, courtesy of Wiki)

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