Decades after initial disease, polio survivors feel new effects

An article from the El Paso Times
August 4, 2013
Decades after initial disease, polio survivors feel new effects


August 4, 2013 -- At the peak of the polio epidemic in the 1940s and 1950s, the contagious viral illness would cause paralysis, difficulty breathing and death.

During that time, polio would paralyze or kill more than half a million people worldwide every year. It became the world's most feared disease.

The severity of the disease oftentimes separated children younger than 5 years old from their parents through forced quarantine.

Shortly after polio reached its peak, the polio vaccine was introduced in 1955 and greatly reduced its spread.

For the children who survived, the disease left them in wheelchairs, crutches, leg braces, breathing devices and with deformed limbs.

Now some polio survivors who lived nearly normal lives for decades are experiencing post-polio syndrome -- a group of potentially disabling symptoms including progressive muscle and joint weakness and pain, general fatigue and exhaustion with minimal activity, muscle atrophy, and breathing or swallowing problems.

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