Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Viral diary: The global rise and near demise of polio

By Dyani Lewis

Virologist Prof Vincent Racaniello discusses how poliovirus causes paralysis, and how close we are to eradicating the disease.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Hi. I'm Dyani Lewis. Thanks for joining us. For most places in the world the sight of children in leg callipers has been relegated to the pages of history, the paralysing effects of poliovirus having become a thing of the past. The advent of the polio vaccine in the 1960s has seen polio progressively extinguished in well off regions like North America, Australia and Europe, as well as in many poorer parts of the world. Gradually and with the dogged determination of co-ordinated vaccination teams, efforts to eradicate the disease have restricted its occurrence to just a handful of war-torn nations. But as we await that final declaration that polio is no more it's perhaps a good time to reflect on how well we actually understand this mortal enemy. How does poliovirus infect us? Why is it so debilitating and will we in fact ever be able to rid the world of polio forever?
I'm joined on Up Close today by a virologist who's investigated the intricacies of poliovirus infection and is well versed in all things polio. Vincent Racaniello is Professor of Microbiology at Columbia University Medical Centre. Vincent is also the creator of a number of science podcasts well worth checking out...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.