Polio Eradication : Rotary, PolioPlus & IA

Ardmore Chapter sporting IA poliovirus designs

Ardmore Chapter sporting IA poliovirus designs

IA is pleased to join in the global effort, and specifically the Rotary PolioPlus campaign, to eradicate polio worldwide by 2005. Since the early 1980’s, Rotary has taken an increasingly significant leadership role in the fight against polio. At this time, Rotary is the largest nongovernmental financial contributor to the effort, projecting contributions in excess of half-billion dollars by 2005.

Poliomyelitis is an infectious disease caused by the polio virus. The disease can strike at any age, but typically affects children under three. The virus is passed through poor hygiene, entering through the mouth, then multiplying inside the throat and intestines. As it multiplies, it destroys the motor neurons that activate muscles, causing them to be non-functional, i.e. paralyzed. Many of us remember the threat of the “iron lung,” terrifying our parents until the Salk and Sabin vaccines led to eradication of the disease in the western hemisphere by 1994. [edited from Rotary International Web Page www.rotary.org]

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Since the World Health Organizations program launch in 1988, the number of cases of polio has decreased by 99%, from 350,000 in 1988 to fewer than 1900 in 2002. Today, there are 7 countries in which this cruel disease remains endemic, presenting serious challenges if polio is to join smallpox as the only eradicated disease known to man. Almost eradicated isn’t good enough in this new global community of ours. Polio is either eradicated or it isn’t, in which case the threat of re-emergence will always loom large.

Electron micrograph of the poliovirus.

In the final phases of the campaign, adequate funding remains the greatest obstacle to achieving the 2005 goal of a polio-free world. In a small way, IA hopes to help in this regard, and commits a portion of every sale of Eradication editions of our necktie and scarf designs to the PolioPlus effort of The Rotary Foundation.