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What Is Polio And What You Can Do About It In 10 Easy Steps

Educate yourself with our handy gif-filled guide.

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1. In case you missed the memo, polio still exists. It's a virus that mainly affects children, and it can cause instant paralysis that lasts a lifetime - and in some cases death.

2. You can ask your mother, but we're pretty sure you were vaccinated against polio as a toddler.

3. Remember from World War Two history class how President Roosevelt was in a wheelchair? That's because he battled polio. Bet you didn't know that Archbishop Desmond Tutu, musician Neil Young and actor and humanitarian Mia Farrow had polio too.

4. But thanks to two vaccines and relentless global vaccination campaigns, there have been fewer than 250 cases so far this year (compared to 350,000 cases in 1988!).

5. Think Manchester United and Liverpool have a cut-throat rivalry? That's nothing compared to Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, who raced to invent the first polio vaccine in the 1950s.

This rivalry bore serious fruit: two highly effective polio vaccines and 10 million people saved from paralysis.

This rivalry bore serious fruit: two highly effective polio vaccines and 10 million people saved from paralysis.

6. Today the vast majority of the world is polio-free. But the problem is, we still aren't able to get the vaccine to everyone who needs it.

7. And the virus doesn't need a passport to travel: it even showed up in sewage in Brazil during the World Cup (luckily, there were no cases).

8. If we don't ensure every single person gets vaccinated and wipe this virus out entirely, polio could make a big comeback and infect more than 200,000 people per year within a decade.

9. Only one virus has ever been eradicated in the entire history of the world: that's smallpox. Polio is "this close" to being the second, making eradication a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

10. 35 children can be vaccinated for the cost of a large chai latte.

So spread the word - share this amongst your friends and family. And if you'd like to make a donation to help make sure every child is vaccinated you can do so here and here.

Help finish what we started - let's make sure that no child ever suffers from this disease again.

Thanks for reading. Find out more about our work on immunization here.

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