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Coastal Empire Polio Survivors Association, Inc.
WE’RE STILL HERE
Coastal Empire Polio Survivors Association, Inc. (CEPSA) is combining efforts with Post-Polio Health International and Polio Survivors around the world during the week of October 14 - 20, 2007 to declare, WE’RE STILL HERE!
We want to be clear about the needs of polio people world-wide; however, we also desire to send the positive message of the abilities and capabilities of people with disabilities. Polio survivors have been a vital part of the community for years, working as executives, scholars, teachers, laborers, business owners, writers and health professionals. Today, WE’RE STILL HERE even though most are retired; we are working as volunteers at schools, places of worship, non-profits, as well as anchors of families as parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and siblings.
CEPSA began helping polio survivors more than 10 years ago face the challenges of Post-Polio Sequelae (PPS), the late effects of polio. Amazingly, the need for our organization continues to grow, as more and more polio survivors find themselves confronting PPS. We offer essential information and PPS education through our monthly support group meetings, newsletters, polio awareness advocacy and website (www.coastalempirepoliosurvivors.org).
There are approximately 20 million polio survivors still alive in the world today, who had polio during the epidemics of the 1940's, 50's and early 60's, and nearly 2 million are North Americans. At least 70% of paralytic polio survivors and 40% of nonparalytic polio survivors are developing Post-Polio Sequelae, which are unexpected and often disabling symptoms that occur about 30 to 40 years after the initial poliovirus attack. The most common PPS symptoms include overwhelming fatigue, new muscle weakness, sleep disorders, muscle and joint pain, heightened sensitivity to anesthesia, cold and pain, and difficulty swallowing and breathing. Many health professionals who have championed our cause all these years are now retiring, while WE’RE STILL HERE! We must attract new dedicated individuals to take their place in recognizing that polio survivors have specialized needs, thus we require special health care. Polio survivors as well as medical professionals should understand that having had polio 40 to 50 years ago can compound new age-related health problems today.
Our organization has launched several polio awareness campaigns over the past few years and partnered with the Coastal Health District to raise awareness of the need for children in the US to be vaccinated against all vaccine preventable diseases. The Centers for Disease Control reports that 10% of US toddlers under 3 years old (one million children) are not vaccinated against polio, with vaccinations lowest for children living below the poverty level. It is only through the vaccine that polio has been eradicated in the US however, polio epidemics are still occurring in other parts of the world. In 2005, five Minnesota unvaccinated children caught polio after coming in contact with someone carrying poliovirus who was visiting from Canada. This appearance of polio in the U.S. is especially frightening since polio has broken free of international vaccination efforts, with cases increasing in 2007 in India and Africa. What will happen when a polio-infected individual from a foreign country arrives in a densely populated city such as New York, where an estimated 50,000 infants and toddlers are unvaccinated? With so much international travel today, America's next polio epidemic could be just a plane ride away. The largest number of polio cases ever reported in the US during the epidemic years was 58,000 in 1952, which was three years before the polio vaccine was approved.
The members of Coastal Empire Polio Survivors Association, Inc. are dedicated to locating still more polio survivors and enhancing their lives and independence; to promoting awareness about polio, immunizations, accessibility issues and global polio eradication, and to let the world know… WE”RE STILL HERE!
Sincerely, Diane Davis, President of Coastal Empire Polio Survivors Association, Inc.