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World Polio Day: One Day, One Focus, Ending Polio

Bowen Rotary is asking you to keep an eye out for the Polio Piggies to help fight this ancient disease
Look for the Polio Piggies at Bowen businesses. Donations go toward eradicating polio worldwide.

World Polio Day, October 24, is a day where Rotary International Clubs all over the globe sponsor walks, activities, fundraisers and reflections on how to help eradicate Polio forever. This year, Bowen Island Rotary will join the global Polio Plus and End Polio Now campaigns by placing Rotary Piggy Banks in several key Bowen establishments so that you may help fill them with donations. These donations go to support vaccinating every child in our world and to help with all the other global efforts Rotary sponsors to provide polio protection in every country of the world.

Polio or poliomyelitis is a viral disease that is highly infectious and affects the central nervous system, the brain and the spinal cord causing partial or full paralysis. It can be potentially deadly and seems to most commonly affect children under the age of five. Polio can be spread by person to person contact, by human contact with infected water droplets, or by a fecal-oral route from sewage contaminated water or food.

The transmission can be from wild or a naturally occurring virus in the environment or from introduced vaccine-derived strains. It appears that the use of soap and water helps deter the transfer of the contaminated water droplets, and interestingly enough, alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs such as the polio virus. The Polio Plus campaign, launched by Rotary International in 1985, supplies sanitation kits which include good hygiene products.

There is no cure for polio; it can only be prevented through vaccinations. A new vaccine has just been deployed that is more genetically stable and can help stop outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus. Every newborn child, in every country, as well as all children under the age of one or who may have missed the yearly campaigns, must be vaccinated this year and receive two more shots by the age of two, and one more by the age of five.

It is recommended that any adults working in risky areas of the world with known outbreaks, or may be unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated or are in health care and/or doing research where they can be exposed to the live virus, should get a booster vaccine to further increase their protection as they are all susceptible to getting polio if exposed to the virus. 

The Polio Piggies are hungry to get rid of polio. / Submitted

There are two countries that are polio endemic and have never managed to interrupt the transmission of the wild polio virus: Afghanistan and Pakistan. As of September 28, 2022 the number of wild polio cases stands at: two in Afghanistan, 19 in Pakistan and a resurgence of six in Mozambique for a total of 27 cases. Compare that to 2021, when there were only six global cases of wild polio: one in Pakistan, four in Afghanistan and one in Malawi.

It is imperative that we maintain our waste water sewage testing and surveillance systems worldwide to quickly identify any outbreaks so that immediate action can be taken to increase the vaccination program in the area(s) involved. For certification of being ‘polio free’ all countries in the WHO region must have no cases of wild polio for three consecutive years. Until polio is completely eradicated, all countries remain at risk of imported wild polio virus (WPV).

On July 21, 2022 in Rockland County in the State of New York, one case of paralytic polio was reported in an unvaccinated young adult. The State of New York immediately began wastewater surveillance testing and discovered three other county’s (Orange, Sullivan and Nassau) as well as New York City showing evidence of poliovirus in their wastewater, with 62 of them genetically linked to the Rockland case. The State has issued a major health alert, an online education site and has intensified its immunization programs. 

The World Health Organization published a report on September 14, 2022 on wastewater surveillance, entitled ‘Detection of circulating vaccine derived polio virus 2 (cVDPV2) in environmental samples - the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America’. The virus detected in the environmental samples in New York State is genetically linked to viruses detected in the sewage samples from London and also to samples collected in the Jerusalem District, Israel. These samples are a serious reminder that as long as polio exists anywhere, it is a threat everywhere.

Rotary International is a ‘service above self’ global organization that took up the cause of eradicating Polio in 1979. Rotary, with a membership of over 1.4 million, was one of the founding members of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988. The other members are: The World Health Organization (WHO), The Center for Disease Control (CDC), UNICEF, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance. It is estimated that Rotary, with the GPEI, vaccinates over 400 million children annually.

Rotary and its club members have contributed $2.6 billion USD and countless volunteer hours to the cause of eradicating Polio ($150 million yearly). Every donation helps in obtaining vaccines, materials, training, transportation, surveillance testing equipment for fighting against the spread of polio.

Please help us with your contributions to help End Polio Now. Look for our local Rotary Polio Pigs to empty your pockets and change purses. If you wish to donate online and get a receipt try: or or at Please reference Bowen Island Rotary ID 83903

Over a million Rotarians have volunteered their time and contributed their resources to end polio. Please join us and help us continue our good work. Check our website: to learn more about our other endeavors here on Bowen.