While the Rotary Club of Hampton County works to serve and support its local community through literacy, wellness, youth leadership, and environmental outreach programs, its efforts also extend internationally through their dedication to polio eradication. On October 22, the Rotarians of Hampton County were joined by District Governor David Tirard and Assistant Governor Bill Steadman to bring awareness to polio and the efforts being taken to eradicate the virus. Each year, on October 24, Rotary International spotlights the fight on World Polio Day.
In 1916, polio, a highly infectious disease which targets the nervous system, killed about 6,000 people in the United States and paralyzed thousands more. Rotary International and the World Health Organization joined hands in 1988 to launch the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). Throughout the years, they were joined by other organizations, including the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The GPEI is determined to completely eradicate polio so that no child will ever again suffer from the virus.
At the launch of GPEI, there were an estimated 350,000 polio cases in 125 countries. In 1994, the Americas were identified as being free of polio. Today, the virus exists in only three countries. As of September 9, 2018, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria had a reported total of 17 polio cases.
While these three are the only polio-endemic countries, the threat of the virus to all nations will continue until the world is polio-free. The virus is spread person to person, typically through contaminated water. A new polio outbreak can begin simply from a polio-infected person entering a polio-free nation, such as the United States.
Every step taken counts in the campaign to eradicate polio. If you wish to join the Rotary Club of Hampton County and all Rotary clubs around the world in making the polio virus a nonthreat, contact Hampton County Rotary President Sarah Lyn Tuten at (864)423-9043 or visit www.EndPolio.org.