Polio after-effects appearing in US

US Mission Geneva/via Flickr
November 12, 2013

Richard Daggett contracted polio as a 13-year-old at the height of the epidemic in the early 1950s.

Now, as one of the aging survivors of the disease, he and others like him are experiencing a condition known as post-polio syndrome, which effectively causes a relapse.

He says post-polio syndrome has been an invisible problem for years and no one saw it coming.

“We thought, I thought, that once you reached a plateau after your initial polio and you recovered to whatever extent you did, that would be the way you’d be the rest of your life… Nobody told us, well, 30 years later watch out. It was never mentioned, nobody even thought about it.”

Even as younger survivors of polio from the 1960s and 1970s age, they could experience muscle weakness, breathing problems and pain caused by the trauma their bodies sustained from the polio virus.

Daggett says most current doctors have never seen a case of polio and they need to be educated about post-polio syndrome.

There were an estimated one million polio survivors in the US in 1995.

Although there are not precise current numbers, researchers have estimated that up to 40 percent of survivors will experience post-polio syndrome, meaning the disease will continue to have an impact in the health care system for years.