Originally Posted by stik
I haven't looked at the CDC stats lately, but I'm fairly certain that I have seen reports of a couple cases of wild polio in the US since 1979, primarily concentrated in unvaccinated populations. Wasn't there an outbreak in an Amish community a few years ago?
No, there were cases in unvaccinated Amish children that were linked back to the OPV strain. The children were infected with the polio virus, but showed no signs of polio (paralysis). In the 1940's 50's no one would have known they had polio, as polio was diagnosed clinically. In my understanding, this incident shows that polio in an infectious disease and that you can carry the polio virus if you are not vaccinated. It does not however mean that polio is the killer disease the pictures of the iron lungs displays. I always fail to make that leap. I would be interested to know just how many people carry the virus without knowing it, and also know what percentage of vaccinated children carry the virus. Obviously that is not going to happen, as it would be impossible to screen each and every child for polio virus.
|MyBoysBlue, the Mayo Clinic website backs up your stats. Given that 1% of cases of polio lead to paralysis, and given that a large chunk of the US population is vaccine compliant, and assuming that the polio vaccine actually works (which I realize is controversial on MDC, but I believe it works, and its efficacy helps account for this particular phenomenon) that would mean that only a small chunk of the population is actually at risk for contracting polio. A smaller chunk of that chunk is actually exposed to polio. And of those exposed, a smaller chunk actually catch it. 1% of the cases of polio caught by that final chunk lead to paralysis. That's not too small a number to make it into the CDC stats, but it is too small a number to make the news on any sort of reliable basis.
I do not know the stats for children who have not been vaccinated for polio in the US. However, I was surprised to see a number of 100+ 000 children in the US who are not or are partially vaccinated. That is not an insignificant number. (I have lost my computer to a dowsing of water from my toddler, and lost all my bookmarks. Sorry I can't link to that)
I do not believe the vaccine is useless.
I do question whether the vaccine alone takes the credit for the dramatic decrease in polio in the USA. And I do think there is more to public health than mass vaccination.
Polio has been a difficult disease and vaccine for me to understand. It was on my list of definite vaccines before I started to look into the issue a bit more closely, although I was planning on a delayed administration. When I read that the percentage of children infected with polio virus who go on to develop polio was so small, and that the number of children who are permanently damaged is even smaller, I wondered what else I needed to know. I had just assumed polio was a dangerous disease that left the vast majority of it's victims paralyzed. Images of iron lungs and the prevaccine numbers of incidence helped to cement this idea.
I was then surprised to read the orthodox clinical reasoning for the treatment of paralytic polio in the 40's and 50's. As an OT specialized in splints, I was surprised to read of the recommended protocols for months
of being in splints, to prevent the weak muscles from being overpowered by the stronger muscles. There was no understanding of muscle tone and how to normalize muscle tone. And I can tell you that I have never seen a positive result from splinting hands with high muscle tone, for instance after a stroke or in a child with CP. It is controversial, and there are OT's/PT's who advocate splinting for functional use, and I see their point. But that would never be weeks/months of splint, like the children in the 40's and 50's had. I have seen contractures after 3 weeks of splinting, for instance post tendon surgery. Contractures were a common complication for children following their discharge from hospital.
Sorry, that is a bit of a tangent. My point is that the more I looked into polio virus and the vaccine, the more I realized that the popular opinion of it is far too simplified. To the point where it is almost impossible to have a coherent discussion on the topic.
Again, I am not saying the vaccine is useless.
I just know that the graph and stats put forward are not indicative of what was going on. They tell a story of massive vaccine success, when it is clear that there were other factors, such as the reclassification of the polio diagnosis.
Again, this does not mean the vaccine doesn't work, but it does raise the question of just what else was contributing to the massive decline seen in the 50's. I think the discussion around various factors that create a clinical picture of acute flaccid paralysis can help bring the the issues into focus. Polio virus is not the only virus with the potential to cause acute flaccid paralysis.
To be rather pedantic, I am not saying polio virus doesn't cause acute flaccid paralysis in some. I am just saying it is not the only virus, and it would seem not all children are at equal risk.
About polio just being a plane ride away, I think measles is a better candidate. It's like saying meningitis is a plane ride away. It's not that simple.