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Australia: Polio warning to ‘complacent’ Aussies amid foreign outbreak

7 Aug, 2018
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A pensioner left disabled after being infected with the potentially deadly polio virus as a child has urged Aussies to get vaccinated following a recent outbreak of the disease in Papua New Guinea.

Polio is a distant memory for many Australians, but the paralysing disease continues to haunt its victims, including Perth great-grandmother Jean Farnworth.

Mrs Farnworth caught the virus just before her sixth birthday, spending years in hospital. For some time, she had to use an iron-lung machine to stop the virus spreading to her diaphragm.

Doctors told her she would never walk again or be able to have children and she’d lost a third of her life.

“It’s a horrible thing. You’ve only got to look at my feet,” Ms Farnworth told 9NEWS, adding the disease “wrecked my life”.

Highly infectious, poliomyelitis can leave sufferers permanently crippled – or potentially kill them.

Australia has been polio-free for decades, but experts warn it doesn’t mean the population is safe from the disease.

“There’s is a chance polio could come to Australia one day and we need to make sure our kids aren’t going to get it,” Doctor Paul Effler from the Western Australian Health Department said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) considers a single confirmed case of polio paralysis to be evidence of an epidemic.

In 2007, a nation-wide polio alert was issued when a Melbourne man returned home infected with the virus after a trip to Pakistan.

The Health Department said it is complacency that makes the local population vulnerable, despite vaccination rates being on the rise in Perth.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 7th, 2018 at 7:27 am and is filed under Latest News.

Literature Literature archive

Baalen, S. van. 2018 Research Ethics 14(4), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1177/1747016117750312

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