Till as late as 1700's, however, existence of polio remained a mystery even in medical science. The first clinical description of polio dates as far back as 1789 when British physician Michael Underwood referred to it as "debility of the lower extremities."
Polio remained the No 1 most notorious diseases in the 20th century till AIDS arrived on the horizon. Even today the crippling virus accounts for nearly 20 million disabled and paralyzed people in six of the world's poorest nations.
A major breakthrough in the fight against Polio came in 1948 when a research group headed by John Enders at the Children's Hospital Boston successfully cultivated the poliovirus in human tissue in the laboratory. This development greatly facilitated vaccine research and ultimately allowed for the development of vaccines against polio. Enders and his colleagues, Thomas H. Weller and Frederick C. Robbins, were awarded Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1954
Another significant landmark in the fight against polio came in 1988, with the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. This initiative was instrumental in curtailing the toll of polio paralysis from an estimated 350,000 cases worldwide to fewer than 500 in 2001. Thanks to the hard work of millions of volunteers, the commitment of governments everywhere and the dedication of international partners, nearly four million people have been spared crippling lifelong disability. This was a sharp contrast from the times when wild polio virus was paralyzing more than 1000 children every day in more than 125 countries across five continents. Today polio is largely confined to
But the battle for a polio free world seems to be far from over. The lethality of Polio can be judged from the fact that even today there is no treatment, anywhere in the world. Polio is caused by poliovirus. Till date there is no antibiotic or medicines which can completely and effectively kill the polio virus.