TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Polio was once considered one of the most feared diseases in the United States.
After the first vaccine was introduced in 1953 and the second oral vaccine in 1963, polio incidents rapidly decreased in the U.S.
“Providing immunization is the best thing you can do. There is no treatment for this infection, so the only way to eradicate it is to vaccinate and prevent it,” said Dr. Siddhi Mankame, who specializes in Infectious Diseases at Stormont Vail in Topeka.
By 1979, the disease was eradicated in the U.S. and shortly after the Rotary Club began a worldwide campaign to eradicate polio from the globe entirely.
“In the late 1980s Polio Plus kicked off, and it was the first extremely focused Rotary worldwide (effort). Since then, we have gone from 100 countries with polio with 200,000 cases of polio a year, and now we are down to three countries with polio. This year about 80 cases have been reported,” explained Roger Aesschliman, the Polio Chairman for the Downtown Topeka Rotary Club.
Many Topeka Rotarians have traveled across the globe to fight for polio eradication.
“Some of the areas are war-torn and also sanitation is a big issue. When you talk about polio eradication, it could also turn into a water sanitation or public health issue when you’re looking at to eradicate this disease. Because that is how it is spread, through human waste. Nigeria in August went 3 years without one wild polio virus case. It could be within just a few months that it will also drop off the endemic list. And if they do that, it will be the first time in history that Africa will be polio-free,” said Faron Barr, the District Governor-Elect for Rotary District 5710.
Locally, Rotarians are doing their part to raise money and awareness on polio eradication.
“The Pumpkin Run that Topeka South (Rotary Club) has done for the last 6 years, has raised $46,000, which is matched 2 to 1 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And this year we are looking to break a record on how much we will earn this year. If we still have a case in the world, we haven’t finished our job!” said Barr.
Here’s a list of Polio Awareness Events happening this month:
10/11/2019 – World Polio Day Proclamation signing by Governor Laura Kelly at 9:00 am
10/24/2019 – World Polio Day recognition at the Capper’s Foundation hosted by the Rotary Club of Topeka at noon.
10/24/2019 – Dinner Event: Plates for Polio Overbrook Club at 6:00pm – location TBD
10/26/2019 – 5K Pumpkin Run hosted by Topeka South Rotary at Shawnee Lake. Start time is 8:30 am – Click here to register
Clubs that are having local City Proclamations for World Polio Day Proclamations:
Leavenworth – 10/08/2019 at 10:00 am
Leawood – 10/21/2019
Lenexa – TBD
Shawnee – TBD