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Coutts talks of worldwide polio eradication

FALLBROOK — At a recent Rotary Club of Fallbrook meeting, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Coutts, whose mother was a polio survivor, told club members about the Rotary International quest to eradicate polio worldwide.

Poliomyelitis (polio virus) was at one time a worldwide epidemic disaster, crippling countless children, many of whom survived in an “iron lung” machine. In 1988 Rotary International launched Polio Plus, a worldwide polio eradication program.

With the new oral virus now available, which is less expensive than previous methods and is easier to administer, millions of children all over the world have been immunized and polio virtually removed from most of the world. Both North and South America, for example, are now polio-free.

In fact, the only places polio is still found are Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and parts of Africa. It is estimated that more than one million babies are immunized each year.

Other organizations, such as the World Health Organization, have joined the effort, putting more dollars and people to work on eradicating the deadly disease. Funds are constantly being solicited to match Bill Gates’ $100 million challenge grant to enable the program to succeed.

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