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Health & Science

On World Polio Day, Jonesboro Rotary Speaker Calls For 'Complete Eradication'

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World Polio Day is being observed on October 24th, a date chosen to commemorate the birth date of Jonas Salk, inventor of the polio vaccine.

In Jonesboro, public health advocate Carl Chinnery told a Tuesday meeting of the Rotary Club that efforts to rid the world of polio must continue until it's 100% gone.  The United States has not confirmed a case of polio orginating from inside the country since 1979, but a few hundred cases have been reported in recent years in other countries.

"It's still with us," said Chinnery. 

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Credit Ann Kenda / ARKANSAS PUBLIC MEDIA
Public health advocate Carl Chinnery speaks to a meeting of the Rotary Club in Jonesboro on Oct. 23, a day a head of World Polio Day.

In the 1940's, he survived the illness as an infant but lost an older brother.

Chinnery shared a letter from his mother about polio's devastating effect on her family of five boys that took her many decades to be able to write. In the letter, she writes of not being pemitted to stay in the hospital with her son George, who died a short time later. He was naked and had his hands and feet tied to each corner of the hospital bed with sheets when his parents were finally allowed to see him.

As the youngest, Carl Chinnery has no memory of being ill with polio but works to eradicate the disease he calls "evil."

There have been just 22 confirmed cases of polio so far this year, but Chinnery said vaccinations must continue.

"We can't do just partial elimination," he said.