The news that traces of Polio have been detected in Melbourne’s sewage system is not necessarily cause for panic, but a reminder that vigilance is needed until the day we finally consign the disease to the history books. A person receiving the live vaccine in another country and continuing to excrete the virus, is the likely cause, according to the authorities in Victoria. It poses only a small risk to public health, but demonstrates that in today’s global village, Polio can spread across borders as fast as jets can take off and land.
Australia was declared Polio free in 2000; yet while 120,000 people live with Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) in the UK, an alarming 400,000 Australians have PPS – the largest physical disability group in the country. All survivors must be supported and the £100m in new funding pledged by the British government to aid eradication efforts will help ensure the days of Polio and ultimately PPS are numbered.
Now is the time to redouble our efforts and usher in 2018 with a commitment to see the last case of Polio and put a stop to people waiting up to eight years for a PPS diagnosis. The British Polio Fellowship continues to raise awareness and offer support to those who are affected by PPS. If you want more information, contact the British Polio Fellowship on 0800 043 1935 or visit www.britishpolio.org.uk
Ted Hill MBE
CEO, The British Polio Fellowship