HomeOur World in Data

We just did our annual update of global Polio data

Some of these paleopathologists have found skeletons with typical polio marks stemming from4000-2400BC Sussex, England (Wells, C. (1965). Bones, Bodie

Some of these paleopathologists have found skeletons with typical polio marks stemming from

  • 4000-2400BC Sussex, England (Wells, C. (1965). Bones, Bodies and Disease. Evidence of disease and abnormality in early man. London: Frederick A. Praeger.)
  • 2000-500BC Norfolk, England (Roberts, C., & Manchester, K. (1995). The Archeology of Disease (2nd ed.). Stroud: Alan Sutton.)
  • 3700BC Deshane, Egypt (Mitchell, J.K. (1900). Study of a Mummy Affected With Anterior Poliomyelitis. Transactions ,1. US: Transactions of the Association of American Physicians.)
  • 1225BC Egypt (Pharaoh Siptah) (Nunn, J. (1996). Ancient Egyptian Medicine. London: University of Oklahoma Press.)
  • The picture is available on Wikimedia commons.

  • Lockhart, J. (1837). Memoirs of the life of Sir Walter Scott. Edinburgh: Robert Cadell. Available online: https://archive.org/details/memoirslifesirw85lockgoog. and Underwood, M. (1789). Treatise on the Diseases of Children. Two Volumes. London: J. Matthews. Available online: https://archive.org/details/2575056R.nlm.nih.gov.

  • Their book is called Poliomyelitis (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Parts are available on google books.

  • The table is taken from Smallman-Raynor, M., & Cliff, A. (2006). Poliomyelitis (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Parts are available on google books.
    It is based on
    Holt, L. E., & Bartlett, F. H. (1908). The Epidemiology Of Acute Poliomyeitis. The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, 135(5), 647-661.
    Batten, F. E. (1911). The epidemiology of poliomyelitis. Available online here.
    Low, R. B. (1917). Forty-fifth annual report of the Local Government Board, 1915–16. Supplement containing the Report of the Medical Officer for 1915–16.
    Lavinder, C., Freeman, A., & Frost, W. (1918). Epidemiologic Studies of poliomyelitis in New York City and the northeastern United States during the year 1916. Washington: Issue 91 of Public Health Bulletin (U.S. Government Printing Office).

  • A first large one happened in 1916 and a particularly large outbreak with 57,000 reported cases happened in the United States in 1952.

  • On page 3 of Robertson, S. (2017). The Immunological Basis for Immunization Series, Module 6: Poliomyelitis. Geneva: World Health Organization. Available online http://www.who.int/ihr/polio1993en.pdf.

  • Hall, W., Nathanson, N., & Langmuir, A. (1957). The Age Distribution of Poliomyelitis in the United States in 1955. American Journal Of Hygiene, 66(2), 214-34.
    This trend was also observed across Scandinavia and Northern Europe, see for example Burnet, F. (1940). The epidemiology of poliomyelitis with special reference to the Victorian epidemic of 1937-1938. Medical Journal Of Australia, 1, 325-336.

  • Read a more detailed description of the 1916 outbreak in New York City in this article, written by Merelli, A. (2017). 100 years ago, New York City declared war against polio and killed 72,000 cats (and 8,000 dogs). Quartz. Retrieved from https://qz.com/787385/the-history-of-polio-in-new-york-includes-unnecessarily-killing-72000-cats-and-8000-dogs/.

  • Researchers recently re-evaluated the president’s symptoms from his historical medical records and question whether he actually contracted polio or rather suffered from an auto-immune disease called Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). Goldman, A. S., Schmalstieg, E. J., Freeman Jr, D. H., Goldman, D. A., & Schmalstieg Jr, F. C. (2003). What was the cause of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s paralytic illness?. Journal of Medical Biography, 11(4), 232-240. It can be freely accessed online here.

  • Page 435 of Smallman-Raynor, M., & Cliff, A. (2006). Poliomyelitis (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Parts are available on google books.

  • Page 188 in Oshinsky, D. (2005). Polio: An American Story (1st ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. Parts are available on google books.

  • Illustrated in this article: King, G. (2013). Salk, Sabin and the Race Against Polio. Smithsonian. Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/salk-sabin-and-the-race-against-polio-169813703/.

  • Oshinsky, D. (2005). Polio: An American Story (1st ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. Parts are available on google books.

  • For more information see the University of Virginia’s overview of the development of the iron lung and polio vaccine which is available here.

  • This is taken from the Cambridge World History of Human Diseases (Figure VIII.110.3.)
    The source notes: “The figures are not entirely comparable: The Current Bibliography of Poliomyelitis includes some papers about other viruses; Index Medicus
    puts the entry for a single paper in more than one section, so that the number of papers is overestimated by perhaps 5 percent. Entries in the Bibliography of Infantile Paralysis are listed by year of publication, whereas other bibliographies list entries by year of appearance in the secondary serial (e.g., 6 months later). The effects of world wars, slumps, large epidemics, and notable research findings are apparent (see J. R. Paul 1971). The peak of papers in 1984 is due to an international conference held in 1983.”

  • Some countries such as Romania, Belarus and Hungary have seen higher than average rates of VAPP in the population. High rates of VAPP in those countries have been linked to the use of intramuscular injections of antibiotics to treat other conditions, which led to a syndrome called ‘provocation polio.’ In other countries, the rates of VAPP have been far lower – with Brazil at the lowest end, having only 0.09 cases per million doses. Platt, L. R., Estívariz, C. F., & Sutter, R. W. (2014). Vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis: a review of the epidemiology and estimation of the global burden. The Journal of infectious diseases, 210(suppl_1), S380-S389.

  • Classification and reporting of vaccine-derived polioviruses (VDPV). (2016). Global Polio Eradication Initiative. https://polioeradication.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Reporting-and-Classification-of-VDPVs_Aug2016_EN.pdf

  • Macklin, G. R., O’Reilly, K. M., Grassly, N. C., Edmunds, W. J., Mach, O., Santhana Gopala Krishnan, R., … & Sutter, R. W. (2020). Evolving epidemiology of poliovirus serotype 2 following withdrawal of the serotype 2 oral poliovirus vaccine. Science, 368(6489), 401-405.

  • Global Polio Eradication Initiative. (2016, August 4). Global synchronisation and the switch. News Stories. https://polioeradication.org/news-post/global-synchronisation-and-the-switch/

  • Ramirez Gonzalez, A., Farrell, M., Menning, L., Garon, J., Everts, H., Hampton, L. M., … & Patel, M. (2017). Implementing the synchronized global switch from trivalent to bivalent oral polio vaccines—lessons learned from the global perspective. The journal of infectious diseases, 216(suppl_1), S183-S192.

  • Thompson, K. M., & Kalkowska, D. A. (2021). Potential Future Use, Costs, and Value of Poliovirus Vaccines. Risk Analysis, 41(2), 349–363. https://doi.org/10.1111/risa.13557

  • Bernier, R. (1984). Some Observations on Poliomyelitis Lameness Surveys. Clinical Infectious Diseases, (Supplement_2), S371-S375.

  • Modlin, J. (2010). The Bumpy Road to Polio Eradication. New England Journal Of Medicine, 362(25), 2346-2349. Retrieved from http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1005405.

  • It is unfortunately not comparable to our graph of the United States’ rate of paralytic polio cases, as it depicts the number of cases per population and not per children.

  • This can be found in: World Health Assembly. Global eradication of poliomyelitis by the year 2000 (resolution 41.28). Geneva: World Health Organization; 1988.

  • Other partners include the United Nations Foundation and other private foundations, the World Bank, national governments, the European Commission, NGOs such as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent societies for example, private companies and 20 million volunteers. For more information on the GPEI’s partners and donors, this is their website.

  • As outlined in the WHO guidelines, for example here.

  • Tebbens, R., Pallansch, M., Cochi, S., Wassilak, S., Linkins, J., & Sutter, R. et al. (2010). Economic analysis of the global polio eradication initiative. Vaccine, 29(2), 334-343. Available online here.

  • Thompson, K. M., & Kalkowska, D. A. (2021). An Updated Economic Analysis of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Risk Analysis, 41(2), 393–406. https://doi.org/10.1111/risa.13665

  • Ching, P., Birmingham, M., Goodman, T., Sutter, R., & Loevinsohn, B. (2000). Childhood mortality impact and costs of integrating vitamin A supplementation into immunization campaigns. American Journal of Public Health, 90(10), 1526.

  • This figure includes pledges for future donations.

  • Retrieved from Page 24 of Global Polio Eradication Initiative. (2016). Financial Resources Requirement. Geneva: World Health Organization. Retrieved from http://polioeradication.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/FRR2013-2019_April2016_EN_A4.pdf.

  • Global Polio Eradication Initiative. (2016). Financial Resources Requirement. Geneva: World Health Organization. Retrieved from http://polioeradication.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/FRR2013-2019_April2016_EN_A4.pdf.

  • Retrieved from Page 24 of Global Polio Eradication Initiative. (2016). Financial Resources Requirement. Geneva: World Health Organization. Retrieved from http://polioeradication.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/FRR2013-2019_April2016_EN_A4.pdf.

  • After reviewing numerous GPEI reports and documents, we were unfortunately not able to determine which year’s prices the US-$ figures quoted by the GPEI were based on. For example, neither the table of Contributions and Pledges to the GPEI from 1985 to 2019 nor the 2016 Financial Resources Requirements report explain exactly at which year’s prices the donations or program costs across years are quoted. This means that our comparisons are possibly slightly inaccurate; however, at currently low inflation levels however comparisons will not be vastly inaccurate if US-$ sums are compared which are based on base years that are surely relatively close.

  • Tebbens, R., Pallansch, M., Cochi, S., Wassilak, S., Linkins, J., & Sutter, R. et al. (2010). Economic analysis of the global polio eradication initiative. Vaccine, 29(2), 334-343. Available online here.

  • This is taken from the GPEI’s Economic Case Study on their website.

  • The inventor of the oral polio vaccine, Albert B. Sabin, already recognized this when he said “It is thus quite obvious that any comparative study of the epidemiologic patterns of poliomyelitis should be based as far as possible on data which are limited to the paralytic disease”. in Sabin, A. (1949). Epidemiological patterns of poliomyelitis in different parts of the world. In Poliomyelitis Papers and Discussions Presented at the First International Poliomyelitis Conference. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company.

  • Dauer, C. (1946). Incidence of poliomyelitis in the United States in 1945. Public Health Reports, 61(25). Freely available online here.

  • See the GPEI’s surveillance guide for more information.

  • Figure taken from pg. 55 of Smallman-Raynor, M., & Cliff, A. (2006). Poliomyelitis (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Parts are available on google books. but the data is taken from Dauer, C. (1946). Incidence of poliomyelitis in the United States in 1945. Public Health Reports, 61(25). Freely available online here.

  • More detailed information on the reporting standards can be found on the WHO Website.

  • Tebbens, R., Pallansch, M., Cochi, S., Wassilak, S., Linkins, J., & Sutter, R. et al. (2010). Economic analysis of the global polio eradication initiative. Vaccine, 29(2), 334-343. Available online here.