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December 14, 1984

Worldwide polio suppression gains support

JAMA. 1984;252(22):3086-3091. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350220010004

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Poliomyelitis is very much in the news, both in the United States and on the international scene.

Researchers are looking into a deterioration in muscular strength reported by some persons who had acute poliomyelitis 30 or 40 years ago but whose condition seemingly has been stable in the years since then. The March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, White Plains, NY, says responses to a questionnaire (mailed to some 200,000 survivors of polio who live in the United States) indicates about 20% may have symptoms similar to those of this "postpolio muscle atrophy."

At present, this condition is not believed to result from reinfection with, or reactivation of, the polio virus. Instead, it is hypothesized to be part of the aging process in these survivors, perhaps because the acute polio episode destroyed or damaged some anterior horn cells of the spinal cord and the decrease in these cells that occurs