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Volume 25, Number 8—August 2019
Etymologia

Etymologia: Poliomyelitis

Ronnie HenryComments to Author 

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Poliomyelitis [pō'-lē-ō-mī-ə-lī-ʹtəs]

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Thumbnail of This historic 1975 photograph shows a laboratory technician preparing doses of polio vaccine by placing a liquid droplet of the vaccine upon each of these sugar cubes, which would subsequently be ingested orally by each recipient. Photo: Public Health Image Library, CDC, 1975

Figure. This historic 1975 photograph shows a laboratory technician preparing doses of polio vaccine by placing a liquid droplet of the vaccine on each of these sugar cubes, which would subsequently be...

From the Greek polios (“gray”) + myelos (“marrow”), poliomyelitis may have plagued humanity since antiquity. The funerary stele of the Egyptian priest Ruma (circa 1400 bce) shows a shortened, withered leg, in what is believed to be one of the earliest depictions of polio. The first clinical description was in 1789 by Michael Underwood. Karl Landsteiner and Erwin Popper identified poliovirus in 1908, and 40 years later John Enders, Thomas Weller, and Frederick Robbins were able to grow poliovirus in tissue culture cells, work for which they received the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in 1954. This breakthrough facilitated vaccine research, and the first inactivated polio vaccine, developed by Jonas Salk and his team, was licensed in 1955. Six years later, Albert Sabin and his team developed a live, attenuated oral polio vaccine (Figure).

Because broad immunization campaigns made progress toward regional polio elimination in the Americas, in 1988 the World Health Assembly declared a goal of global polio eradication. Through a partnership between Rotary International, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has achieved a 99.9% decrease in the global incidence of polio. Today, wild poliovirus transmission occurs in only Afghanistan and Pakistan, and 4 of the 6 World Health Organization regions have formally declared the elimination of the indigenous wild poliovirus. Of the 3 types of poliovirus, type 2 wild poliovirus was declared eradicated globally in 2015, and type 3 wild poliovirus has not been detected since 2012. With only 33 cases globally from type 1 wild poliovirus in 2018, the task remains to eliminate polio in its last niches.

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References

  1. Pearce  JM. Poliomyelitis (Heine-Medin disease). J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2005;76:128. DOIPubMed
  2. Global Polio Eradication Initiative. History of polio [cited 2019 Jun 21]. http://polioeradication.org/polio-today/history-of-polio
  3. Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Our mission [cited 2019 Jun 21] http://polioeradication.org/who-we-are/our-mission

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Figure

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Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid2508.et2508

Original Publication Date: 7/1/2019

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Table of Contents – Volume 25, Number 8—August 2019

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Ronnie Henry, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Rd NE, Mailstop E28, Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA

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Page created: July 17, 2019
Page updated: July 17, 2019
Page reviewed: July 17, 2019
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.
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