While many Rotarians may remember a time when polio was a very real health threat in the United States, others may not.  So, this month, I thought I’d write about “What Is Polio”?   
Poliomyelitis, commonly referred to as “polio”, is caused by a virus.  This virus is spread from person to person, most commonly through fecal contamination of food and water followed by ingestion.  Less commonly, the polio virus can be spread from droplets expelled by an infected person.  Most people who become infected with polio show no symptoms and may not be aware that they are infected.  Some people infected with polio develop “abortive polio”, a mild and short duration form of the disease that is manifested through flu-like symptoms.
Paralytic polio, what most people associate with this disease, begins with flu-like symptoms as seen with abortive polio, but quickly involves the nervous system, leading to muscle weakness, muscle wasting, deformities of the limbs and, in the most severe cases, can lead to death if the muscles that control breathing are involved.
Post-polio syndrome is a cluster of health impacts that can emerge many years later in persons who have had polio.  Post-polio syndrome will be addressed in greater detail in a future installment of this column.
How Can I Help Eradicate Polio?
Rotarians can donate to End Polio Now online at https://www.endpolio.org/donate
Every dollar donated through End Polio Now will be matched by two dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, tripling your financial impact!
Notable Survivor of Polio: Joni Mitchell, Entertainer.  “I guess I really started singing when I had polio. Neil {Young} and I both got polio in the same Canadian epidemic. I was nine, and they put me in a polio ward over Christmas. They said I might not walk again and that I would not be able to go home for Christmas. I wouldn’t go for it. So I started to sing Christmas carols, and I used to sing them real loud. When the nurse came into the room I would sing louder. The boy in the bed next to me, you know, used to complain. And I discovered I was a ham. That was the first time I started to sing for people.”