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.
Mazatlán, Mexico, has long been an attractive home destination for Canadian and American retirees, but, in recent years, young, digital nomads have also discovered the charms of this coastal city, finding inexpensive accommodations, beautiful weather and plenty of bandwidth for working remotely. The laid-back beach scene definitely eases the transition of relocating to Mexico’s West Coast.
United Airlines is in the midst of a major initiative to modernize its fleet over the next several years. After first announcing the plan in 2021, planes fitted with United’s signature interior are finally beginning to appear across the airline’s narrowbody fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes. United flyers are sure to notice these enhancements from the moment they step on board: Each new or updated plane sports remodeled seats, seatback entertainment screens for everyone, Bluetooth connectivity and more, all adding up to a better experience on every journey.
Global Traveler Announces the Winners of the 2023 Outstanding Diversity & Inclusion in Travel Awards
For its third year, Global Traveler awards the airline, cruise line and hotel brand best representing diversity, equity and inclusion within the travel industry. Over the past year Global Traveler analyzed many airlines, cruise lines and hotel brands to determine which companies prove most committed to changing the world through diversity and inclusion.
The highly anticipated GT Tested Reader Survey has more reason to celebrate in 2024 than ever before. This year marks the 20th anniversary of our GT Tested Reader Survey awards, with many of the winning brands earning milestone accolades for years of dedicated and consistent service.
IHG Hotels & Resorts is thrilled to announce the launch of a new mobile product feature for members: IHG Wi-Fi Auto Connect. This feature is now available exclusively in the IHG One Rewards mobile app for both iOS and Android users and will automatically connect IHG One Rewards members to WiFi upon arrival at more than 5,000 IHG hotels worldwide — no separate passwords or log-ins needed. This is in addition to the exciting benefits of being an IHG Business Edge member. IHG Business Edge provides small- and medium-sized businesses access to a user-friendly portal that displays comprehensive spending and savings data while providing the convenience of direct booking with a guaranteed discount.
As another phenomenal year of travel comes to an end, it’s time, as always, for Global Traveler to celebrate and award those who do it best as we announce the 2023 winners of the GT Tested Reader Survey awards. But that's not the only cause for celebration here: We've hit another major milestone, as this marks our 20th year honoring the best of the best inn world of travel!
Next summer, Denver, Colorado, becomes home to the country’s first carbon-positive hotel. The 13-story Populus features 265 modern guestrooms, a ground-floor restaurant, café, flexible meeting spaces, and signature rooftop restaurant and bar. Architecture is designed by Studio Gang, with interiors envisioned by Wildman Chalmers Design.
The Saronic or Argo Saronic Islands of Greece call travelers to explore its seven small islands and islets brimming with history, natural sites and more. With most easily accessible by boat, the islands’ proximity to ports of Athens make the Saronic Islands an ideal destination for those preferring shorter boat rides. In fact, trips from Athens ports to the islands take only between 10 minutes and two hours, depending on the island you choose, making them perfect for day or weekend trips. From Piraeus port, you can access Hydra, Spetses, Aegina and Poros directly. Come explore these stunning islands with us and find the inspiration to plan your next trip to these islands. Hydra Hydra town curves around a slope overlooking the Argosaronic Gulf like an amphitheater and is considered one of the most romantic destinations in Greece. Most unique to the island is its lack of vehicles. People on the island get around on mules and donkeys as well as water taxis, making for a peaceful and laid-back day. Hydra lies a two-hour ferry ride from Piraeus port in Athens.
Private jet charter service Jettly recently conducted an extensive study to find the most and least reliable U.S. airports in 2023. Analyzing the total number of delays, cancellations and diversions from more than 390 U.S. airports provided by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the results saw the least reliable airports span all corners of the country.