Thanks to vaccines, polio may officially be eradicated by 2018

Last year in 2014, only three countries in the world had cases of Polio: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria. This year, we’re down to two — Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to NPR, by 2018, we may be down to zero.

Polio, short for poliomyelitis, is a virus that would paralyze 1 out of every 200 people infected. Of those paralyzed, 5 to 10% of them had the muscles in their throat paralyzed, making it impossible to breathe and suffocating them to death.

Polio’s eradication has been fairly swift. In 1952 there were 20,000 cases in the United States alone. After the discovery of the vaccine in 1955, polio in the United States was down to 100 cases just 10 years later. By 1973, the number of cases were down to single digits. By the mid-1990s, the United States was officially free of polio.

The only other virus that has been completely eradicated from the entire world in a similar way was smallpox, back in 1977, again, because of vaccinations.

Even now, there are people who still claim vaccines cause autism even after that notion has been thoroughly debunked. They think vaccines are something other than a medical boon that have kept children safe from sometimes deadly diseases that used to be just another fact of life.

Anyway, this is incredibly exciting news. Here’s to no more polio in 2018!

[Slate] Featured image via Twitter

Caitlin Cohen

Caitlin Cohen graduated from Boston University with a degree in History. She has written for DeadState for three and a half years. She technically speaks French. She lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend and has big plans to one day get a dog.

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