The battle to eradicate polio

Published 7:50 am Saturday, October 28, 2017

By Bobby Tingle

The Orange Leader


Twelve cases of polio have been reported in the world this year setting a pace to end the year at roughly 17. Last year there were 37 reported cases and the year prior 75. At the current rate of eradication polio could be gone in the next few years. The battle against polio will continue until it does.

End Polio Now Coordinator for Zone 21b of Rotary International “Chuck” Mason updated Orange Rotarians on the current efforts to eliminate polio worldwide at their regular meeting Tuesday.

Rotary International has been in the battle worldwide against polio since 1983. Currently they are joined by other groups such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to make vaccinations available, even in remote and difficult areas to serve such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Texas has a unique history with this disease. In 1952, Houston recorded 50,000 cases of polio according to Mason.

Research dollars were therefore funneled to facilities such as the Texas Medical Center and Texas Children’s Hospital to research and test vaccinations against the disease. Houston area parents were willing to allow testing of the vaccines due to the fear of the disease and its effects.

“Polio was a big part of my life,” said Port of Orange Director Gene Bouillion. “Because my dad had it.”

The creation and testing of vaccines has been successful allowing for the current rate of eradication of this disease worldwide.