Factbox: Polio: A crippling disease proving tough to beat

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – Here are some key facts about polio.

* Poliomyelitis, or polio, is a viral disease of the brain and spinal cord that can cause irreversible paralysis in a matter of hours.

* There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life. Vaccines can be oral or injected.

* Polio mainly affects children under five years of age. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis, usually in the legs.

* Among those paralyzed, 5 percent to 10 percent die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.

* Polio cases have decreased by more than 99 percent since 1988, when there were an estimated 350,000 cases worldwide. The reduction is the result of the global effort to eradicate the disease. So far in 2010, there have been 706 cases globally.

* Four countries in the world remain polio-endemic, down from more than 125 in 1988. The remaining countries are Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.

* As long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries remain at risk of contracting polio. Recent outbreaks in Tajikistan and Angola, which had previously been free of the disease, were imported from endemic countries.

SOURCE: Reuters/World Health Organization/Global Polio Eradication Initiative

(Compiled by Kate Kelland, editing by Peter Graff)

Factbox: Polio: A crippling disease proving tough to beat