We have battled global infectious diseases before: Looking back on polio

Best Practice Nordic | Mar 2020 | COVID-19 |

The development of the current global coronavirus disease COVID-19 and the world society’s following reactions and management repeats a pattern, that echoes back to past worldwide infectious diseases. Polio is one of them. What characterized polio, and how did the world society battle the disease? Facts about poliovirus Polio - or poliomyelitis - is a highly contagious entero-virus, that is transmitted via the fecal-oral or more rarely via the oral-oral route. Polyomyelitis has been known since ancient times. The virus infects the pharynx and intestinal mucosa, from where it spreads out to regional lymph nodes, eventually causing viremia. Polioviruses primarily attack the motor cells of the medulla spinalis as well as the motor control centers of the brain stem. Over 90 % of polio infections are asymptomatic, 4-8 % results in abortive poliomyelitis with characteristic symptoms and 1-2 % in aParalytick polio with symptoms corresponding to meningitis. Less than 1 % of infected individuals develop characteristic paralytic conditions in different muscles in various degrees. Paralytic polio can be life-threatening when the paralysis occurs in the muscles used for breathing. It is still unknown which factors cause the degree of polio infection. Thousands of respiratory arrests In the summer of 1952 Copenhagen was hit by a polio epidemic. Nationally, a total of 7.278 cases was registered from 1952-1953, of which 3.134 had paralysis and 348 died as a result of polio. At this point there was little knowledge about how the disease was transmitted.  Prior to 1952, only a few non-threatening cases had been detected. 24/7 of self-inflating The medical staff tried to remedy the patients’ respiratory problems by putting them in a ventilator. The challenge was that there were not enough machines and that the ones they had were not efficient. This problem was solved when the anaesthetists at Blegdamshospitalet,...