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Polio is Back

Polio was the disease that President Franklin Roosevelt had that the media kept secret from the public, for fear of making him look weak. It was the scourge of children who grew up in the 40s and early 50s, before the polio vaccine was invented in 1955. While polio still affects some African countries, the CDC has declared that polio is a disease of the past in the US, except now four Amish children in Minnesota have contracted it, probably because their religious philosophy precludes vaccinations.

Epidemiologist Harry Hull says these cases aren't a threat to the general public because most people have been vaccinated against polio, but he expects to find more infections within the Amish community because some of its members continue to refuse vaccinations.

So far, one of the children have shown any symptoms of paralysis, which affects only about one in 20 people who contract the disease. According to the CDC, more than 95% of US children are vaccinated against polio by the time they enter school. Most states require proof of a series of immunizations against common childhood diseases before a child is allowed to enroll in school.

Lately, some parents have been refusing to immunize their children due to fears that the mercury preservative in the vaccines can lead to autism in children who are genetically vulnerable to this condition. However, since the polio vaccine can be taken orally, that should not be a problem in the case of polio.

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