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Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease. The virus spreads from person to person and can invade an infected person’s spinal cord, causing life-long paralysis or in rare instances, death. The eradication of polio remains an important priority for the CDC and many of its global partners.  Over the past 25 years, the number of polio cases reported worldwide has fallen from an estimated 350,000 in 1988 to only 407 in 2013—a decline of more than 99%, but there remains work to be done.

Currently, four regions of the world (the Americas, Europe, South East Asia and the Western Pacific) are certified polio free, but in a small number of countries the spread of this disease has never stopped, putting all the countries of the world at risk. Polio has no cure, making vaccination the only way to eradicate it. However, continued conflict, political instability, hard-to-reach populations, and attempts to ban vaccination in some areas continue to pose complex challenges and threaten to derail decades of work.

In this session of Grand Rounds we investigated the efforts of those fighting against polio. Specifically, this session highlights innovative strategies being used in countries affected by insecurity to accelerate immunization and surveillance efforts to ultimately reach every last child and make the world polio free.

Beyond the Data

Dr. Phoebe Thorpe and Dr. Elias Durry discuss the challenges in eradicating polio worldwide. Reaching every last child and making the world polio free is possible, but everyone has to do their part.

  • Public health agencies must continue to strengthen surveillance systems and immunization programs
  • Governments must support the efforts of vaccinators by ensuring safe environments to work.
  • Community leaders must partner with vaccinators to educate their communities.

Presented By

Gregory L. Armstrong, MD
Chief, Polio Eradication Branch, Global Immunization Division
Center for Global Health, CDC
M. Steven Oberste, PhD
Chief, Polio and Picornavirus Laboratory Branch, Division of Viral Diseases
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC
Faisal Shuaib, MD, DrPH
Deputy Incident Manager for Polio
Polio Emergency Operations Center
Elias Durry, MD, MPH
Senior Emergency Coordinator for Polio Eradication in Pakistan,
Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office

World Health Organization

Facilitated By

John Iskander, MD, MPH
Scientific Director
Phoebe Thorpe, MD, MPH
Deputy Scientific Director
Susan Laird, MSN, RN
Communications Director

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  • Page last reviewed: February 28, 2018
  • Page last updated: February 28, 2018
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Science
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication
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