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What polio is and how India managed to extirpate it
Compiled by basudha das        Print Edition: Feb 16, 2014
What polio is and how India managed to extirpate it

Vanquished Virus
On January 13 this year India was finally declared a polio-free country, with not a single case of the disease having been reported in the past three years. What polio is and how India managed to extirpate it:

The disease: Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a virus-borne, highly infectious disease that spreads either through the mouth or through faeces (fecal-oral route). In its minor form, the attack leaves no aftereffects. The more serious form, however, attacks the central nervous system and thereby the part of the brain that controls muscular function. The muscles in different parts of the body grow weak, even leading sometimes to paralysis.  

The treatment: There is no cure for polio. Treatment can only be symptomatic to prevent infections in the affected part, apart from prolonged physiotherapy. Health-care efforts thus concentrate on preventing polio by administering the polio vaccine.

The vaccine: The first, injectible polio vaccines were created separately in the early 1950s by scientists Hilary Koprowski and Jonas Salk. What is universally used today, however, in polio eradication efforts, is the oral polio vaccine (OPV) developed in the late 1950s by Albert Sabin at Children's Hospital Research Foundation in Cincinnati, US.

The Indian achievement: India's war against polio on a mass scale began in 1978 with the Expanded Programme in Immunisation. At the time, between 200,000 to 400,000 children, mostly under five years, were being afflicted by polio every year. About 40 per cent of all infants were covered by 1984. In 1985, the Universal Immunisation Programme began. But the emphasis on polio alone started in 1995/96 with Pulse Polio, supported by WHO, UNICEF and Rotary International. The campaign has cost around $3 billion and used 2.4 million vaccine administrators. At its peak, about a tenth of India's annual health-care budget was allocated to it. The concerted effort saw polio cases drop year by year - the last one reported being that of Ruksar Khatun in West Bengal's Howrah district on January 13, 2011.

The flip side: Some health-care experts attribute the increasing cases of non-polio flaccid paralysis in children to an overdose of OPV, but this is not conclusively proved.

Hold it Tight
What happens when a supercar and a luxury brand come together? You get the most expensive waistbelt in the world. Bugatti and Swiss luxury brand Roland Iten have unveiled an incredible trouser belt, R22 Bugatti Calibre, which costs more than a new Porsche Cayman. Limited to just 11 units, the belt comes with a »60,000 price tag. The belt has 100 moving, mechanical pieces. Each component is carved by precision laser from a solid block of gold or titanium.

What Lies Within
It took more than 50 hours for Angie Collins, resident of Devon, UK, to get back her diamond wedding ring worth »18,000, after her pet dog swallowed it. She had left the ring on a side table and was shocked when her dog Jack popped it into his mouth and swallowed it. After sieving Jack's poop for two days, she finally found the diamond. She promptly insured it this time, which she had not done before.

Where is Kejriwal?
State-run Chhattisgarh Power Distribution Company has asked residents of Boergaon, in Gariaband district, to pay Rs 5.78 lakh for the village's electrification. Boergaon is home to a very poor tribe, which cannot even dream of paying such an amount. Ironically, the power connection is a welfare project designed for the village ahead of Lok Sabha polls due by May. Chief Minister Raman Singh, however, has assured them the district collector will resolve the issue.

Compiled by Basudha Das

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