Sunday, November 10, 2013

Is Europe at risk of a new polio outbreak?

Polio is caused by a virus.  Basically infections are caused by either bacteria or viruses. These are little cells that get into the body and cause damage. 

A virus cell (from www.amhistory.si.edu):



It is easier to eliminate bacterial infections from the body.  Antibiotics help to kill bacterial infections in the human body. Viral infections are nearly impossible to destroy. AIDS, for instance, is caused by a virus.

Polio is a strange disease.  Interestingly, in very poor and underdeveloped countries, children who play outside often become exposed to the virus at an age when they can develop immunity to it. Immunity means that once you are exposed to the virus, you can never catch it again.  So there is a period of time - in childhood - when a child can 'catch' the virus and the virus actually creates immunity.  The virus not only doesn't hurt the child, it protects the child from ever getting the disease.

However, if you are not inoculated against the polio virus (given a shot by a doctor to give you immunity) or you are not exposed to the virus at a young age, you can catch the polio virus when you are older and either suffer paralysis (you might become paralyzed - unable to walk or move parts of your body) or you might even die.  A US president caught polio when he was older and was not able to walk (Franklin Roosevelt).

Polio has been eliminated (through vaccines - medicine the doctor gives through a shot) in almost all countries of the world.  Unfortunately, the virus will always exist and it looks as if Europe is in danger of a polio outbreak (a sudden spread of polio).

Here is the article:

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/441872/Europe-at-risk-of-polio-outbreak-as-refugees-flee-Syria

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

an outbreak - when a disease begins in a country and starts to spread

to be at risk of something - if someone is at risk of something, there is a strong possibility the person will suffer from that thing or experience that thing.  In the winter you are at greater risk of catching a cold or the flu.

refugees - people who are leaving Syria, due to the war,  in order to save their lives

to flee - to escape, to run away

devastating - horrible, shocking, terrible

a civil war - a war fought by people within one country

a vaccination - in the photo in the article you can see kids getting drops of something in their mouths.  This seems to be the polio vaccine which will make them immune to the disease.  So I do not think a person has to get the polio vaccine through a shot - it can be taken orally (through the mouth).

the type of immunization used.... - it seems that the vaccine given to Europeans is not good enough.  If a person is exposed to the disease for a long period, the person may still get polio even though he/she recieved the vaccine.

prolonged - extended, for a long time

sustained - continued over a long period of time

two German experts has warned - two German experts have warned.

fatal - deadly

paralysis - when you can't move parts of your body. The virus attacks nerve cells.  Once it destroys a nerve cell, the body can't repair that cell.

the vast majority those infected - the vast majority of those infected (they have grammar mistakes in this article)

a symptom - something a person feels or shows that indicates a person has a disease

insufficient - not good enough

comprehensive - more complete, more thorough, more far-reaching

jab - a doctor's shot.  So Europeans, like Americans, get a shot which not only protects a person from polio, but a few other diseases

to trigger - to cause

unrecognized - without even knowing it

oral polio vaccination - this is the most effective way to kill the polio bug but there's just one big problem: it sometimes causes a person to become paralyzed.  So Europe stopped this method of vaccination.

a stockpile - a collection

screening of sewage for the polio virus - screening means monitoring or testing; sewage - when you flush your toilet, the stuff from your toilet  goes into the sewer system.  This is sewage.  Sewage is, basically, human waste material.  The polio virus comes from solid, human waste material that gets into drinking water.

pestilence - disease

famine - hunger and starvation

conflict inevitable disrupts - conflict means war in this case, inevitable means it will happen...so war will always disrupt or stop doctors from vaccinating children

eradicated - eliminated, destroyed

to mutate - change

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