World Polio Day 2020 | UPSC

World Polio Day 2020 | UPSC


Why is World Polio Day observed, where India stands

      WHY IN NEWS:

As per the CDC, Afghanistan and Pakistan are the last strongholds of the wild poliovirus. In Pakistan, the number of reported wild poliovirus cases has increased in 2020.

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Health:Diseases


For PRELIMS it is important to understand the cause , symptoms and the treatment of this disease .

For MAINS go through the campaigns . Let us dive in !


India was declared polio-free in January 2014, largely thanks to the pulse polio campaign


  • October 24 is observed as World Polio Day every year in order to call on countries to stay vigilant in their fight against the disease.

As per the WHO, since 1980, the cases of wild poliovirus have decreased by over 99.9 per cent .


World Polio Day was established by Rotary International over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk.

  • Jonas was the one who led the first team to develop the vaccine against the disease.
  • In the last three decades, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), led by national governments with WHO.


  • In 2019, polio outbreaks were recorded in the Philippines, Malaysia, Ghana, Myanmar, China, Cameroon, Indonesia and Iran.
  • These were mostly vaccine-derived (a rare strain of the virus genetically mutated) from the strain in the vaccine.

If the oral vaccine-virus is excreted and allowed to circulate in an un- or under-immunised population for at least 12 months, it can mutate to cause infections.-WHO

  • Afghanistan and Pakistan are the two countries that are the last stronghold of the wild poliovirus.-CDC
  • In Pakistan, the number of reported wild poliovirus cases has increased in 2020.
  • On the other hand, on August 25, the African Region was certified as wild poliovirus free.
  • As per the CDC, as of October 7, there were more than 440 cases of poliovirus around the world.

World Polio Day 2020 | UPSC


  • India was declared polio-free in January 2014, after three years of zero cases.

It is an achievement by the successful pulse polio campaign in which all children were administered polio drops.

  • The last case due to wild poliovirus in the country was detected on January 13, 2011.


  • Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly disease that affects the nervous system.
  • Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus.
  • The virus spreads from person to person and can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis (can’t move parts of the body).


Most people who get infected with poliovirus (about 72 out of 100) will not have any visible symptoms.

About 1 out of 4 people with poliovirus infection will have flu-like symptoms that may include:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain

These symptoms usually last 2 to 5 days, then go away on their own.


More serious symptoms that affect the brain and spinal cord:

  • Paresthesia (feeling of pins and needles in the legs)

Meningitis (infection of the covering of the spinal cord and/or brain) occurs in about 1 out of 25 people with poliovirus infection

  • Paralysis (can’t move parts of the body) or weakness in the arms, legs, or both, occurs in about 1 out of 200 people with poliovirus infection


  • Paralysis is the most severe symptom associated with polio, because it can lead to permanent disability and death.

Between 2 and 10 out of 100 people who have paralysis from poliovirus infection die, because the virus affects the muscles that help them breathe.

  • Even children who seem to fully recover can develop new muscle pain, weakness, or paralysis as adults, 15 to 40 years later.
  • This is called post-polio syndrome.
  • Poliomyelitis” (or “polio” for short) is defined as the paralytic disease.
  • So only people with the paralytic infection are considered to have the disease.


  • Poliovirus is very contagious and spreads through person-to-person contact.
  • It lives in an infected person’s throat and intestines.

Poliovirus only infects people. It enters the body through the mouth and spreads through:

  • Contact with the feces (poop) of an infected person.
  • Droplets from a sneeze or cough of an infected person (less common).

An infected person may spread the virus to others immediately before and up to 2 weeks after symptoms appear.

  • The virus can live in an infected person’s feces for many weeks.
  • It can contaminate food and water in unsanitary conditions.
  • People who don’t have symptoms can still pass the virus to others and make them sick.


There are two types of vaccine that can prevent polio:

  • Inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) given as an injection in the leg or arm, depending on the patient’s age.
  • Oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) is still used throughout much of the world.

Polio vaccine protects children by preparing their bodies to fight the poliovirus.

  • Almost all children (99 children out of 100) who get all the recommended doses of the inactivated polio vaccine will be protected from polio.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • The virus multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.
  • Once that happens, the patient is crippled for life because there is no treatment for the affliction.
  • Polio infection, however, can be easily prevented by a vaccine.
  • There are three variants of the poliovirus, numbered 1 to 3.

For a country to be declared polio-free, the wild transmission of all three kinds has to be stopped.

  • For eradication, cases of both wild and vaccine-derived polio infection have to be reduced to zero.

World Polio Day 2020 | UPSC


  • As Polio is eliminated from India but the risk of importation still persists .
  • As the disease is prevalent in three countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria).

The need for the country is to maintain the population immunity and sensitive surveillance till global polio eradication happens.

  • This is maintained through National and Sub National Polio rounds along with sustained high quality polio surveillance.
     SOURCES:THE IE | World Polio Day 2020 | UPSC



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