Do you remember polio? Poliomyelitis, also known as infantile paralysis, triggers memories of standing in line with my siblings and parents waiting to receive the polio vaccine via sugar cube. We went back three times for vaccine-laced sugar cubes — a smart way to quickly vaccinate many children. Franklin D. Roosevelt contracted polio as an adult and spent much time hiding it from the public.
Polio is an infectious disease attacking the nervous system, spread by direct person-to-person contact, especially in areas with inadequate sanitation. Polio is contracted by contact with infected mucus or phlegm from the nose or m…outh or with infected feces. The virus enters through the mouth or nose, multiplies in the throat and intestinal tract and is absorbed through the blood and lymph system. It can also be transmitted through contaminated water or food. The time from infection to symptom ranges from five to 35 days.
Many believe polio has been eradicated worldwide; however, it still exists. In the United States, the last case of naturally occurring polio was in 1979. Today, despite a global eradication campaign, poliovirus continues to affect children and adults in Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan. Countries with re-established transmission of polio include Angola, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Sudan. Countries with imported poliovirus that are experiencing ongoing outbreaks are China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Nepal and Niger.
Risks for a traveler include lack of polio immunization followed by exposure. Take heed if traveling to areas with recent polio outbreaks. Those most likely to contract the disease are children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.
Polio is more common in the summer and fall and is so contagious that anyone living with a recently infected person is likely to contract polio. People carrying the virus can spread it for weeks. Extreme stress or strenuous physical activity can depress your immune system after being exposed to poliovirus.
There are three basic patterns of polio infection: subclinical, non-paralytic and paralytic. The vast majority of people infected do not become sick or are not even aware they have been infected. Non-paralytic polio does not lead to paralysis but usually causes flu-like signs and symptoms including fever, sore throat, headaches, vomiting, fatigue, back or neck pain and stiffness, pain or stiffness in the arms or legs, muscle spasms or meningitis.
In rare cases, infection leads to paralytic polio, the most serious form, with several types based on the part of the body affected: spinal polio (spinal cord), bulbar polio (brainstem) and bulbo-spinal polio (brain and spinal cord). Initial symptoms include fever and headaches followed by a loss of reflexes, severe muscle aches and spasms and loose and floppy limbs (flaccid paralysis), often worse on one side of the body. Onset of paralysis may be sudden. Paralytic polio can lead to temporary or permanent muscle paralysis; disability; and deformities of the hip, ankles and feet. Although many can be corrected with surgery and physical therapy, these treatments are not available in developing countries where polio is still endemic, and children who survive may spend their lives with severe disabilities.
The goal of treatment is to control symptoms while the infection runs its course. People with severe cases may need life-saving measures, especially mechanical ventilation to breathe. Symptoms are treated based on severity and include antibiotics for secondary infections (not the polio), moist heat to reduce muscle spasms and pain, painkillers to reduce headache and spasms, bed rest and a nutritious diet. Physical therapy, braces, corrective shoes or orthopedic surgery are additional treatments.
Post-polio syndrome affects some people decades after they had polio, about 25–35 years after the disease. Common signs include progressive muscle or joint weakness or pain; general fatigue or exhaustion after minimal activity; muscle atrophy; breathing or sleeping problems; sleep-related breathing disorders, such as sleep apnea; and a decreased tolerance of cold temperatures.
The prognosis of polio depends on the form and the site affected. If the spinal cord and brain are not involved (as in more than 90 percent of cases), complete recovery is possible. Brain and spinal cord involvement is a medical emergency. Disability is more common than death. Infection high in the spinal cord or the brain increases the risk of breathing problems.
Although improved public sanitation and careful personal hygiene help reduce the spread of polio, the most effective preventive measure is the polio vaccine. In the United States, most children receive four doses of inactivate poliovirus (IPV) at 2, 4 and between 6 to 18 months, with a booster between 4 and 6 years old when entering school. Most U.S. adults are immune due to childhood vaccinations. The Centers for Disease Control advise protecting against polio if you are traveling anywhere there is risk. If you are a previously vaccinated adult who plans to travel in an area of polio outbreaks, get a booster dose of IPV. Immunity following a booster lasts a lifetime.
Call your healthcare provider if someone close to you has developed poliomyelitis and you have not been vaccinated, if you develop symptoms of polio or if your child’s immunization is not up to date. For more information, visit www.polioeradication.org.
Thessaloniki is the second-largest city of Greece and the most important center of the area. Built near the sea, elegant and refined, the Greek “Lady of the North” is a modern, vivacious city that welcomes visitors eager to learn about its history and culture, and at the same time have fun, relax, go shopping or simply explore the cityscape by the sea.
Last month, the St. Regis Venice opened with the largest waterfrontage in Venice and a location within five former Venetian palaces dating back to the 1600s. The property debuted following a two-year full renovation of the former Grand Hotel Brittania, originally opened in 1895.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
IT IS IN THE NATURE OF THINGS we love to want to trace them to their beginnings. It is also in the nature of things we love to enjoy sharing them with others. Put the two together, add a ship, and that is what wine enthusiasts can expect on a wine cruise. Sail along historic rivers, disembark to visit wineries, walk the vineyards, taste the wines and later, on the ship, enjoy dinner with other wine lovers while sipping wines highlighting your meal. A wine-rich day ends with a peaceful night’s sleep as the ship sails on to tomorrow’s vinous treat.
Get to know Mexico with ONE FREE NIGHT With Fiesta Americana Get to know Mexico with the largest hotel company in the country, offering more than 185 options in the best city and resort destinations. Book at any of our hotels with the best available rate at the time of booking and get one night free.
TIME IS NOT ON THE SIDE of taxpayers who failed to report their Bitcoin and other virtual currency transactions to the IRS. The IRS recently announced it is sending letters to virtual currency owners who have not reported transactions on income tax returns. By the end of August, more than 10,000 taxpayers received these letters.