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This Too Shall Pass

I wasn’t afraid.

Yet I heard the concern in my parents’ voice when they talked about it.

I was just a girl when I heard them utter the word “polio.”

It was a terrifying word for parents because so many children were afflicted with it. Polio, also known as infantile paralysis, was a highly contagious viral disease, transmitted through direct contact, contaminated food or water, or respiratory droplets. Carriers of the disease did not necessary show signs before infecting others.

In its most severe form, it causes painful nerve damage leading to paralysis, difficulty breathing and sometimes death. I had seen children who had to walk on crutches due to polio causing issues with their legs, including shortening of one leg.

Then, through medical science, a vaccine was discovered that could prevent polio. This country’s leaders made it a nationwide effort to provide the vaccine to every child here. I recall walking to Woodsdale School, along with the other neighbors. My mom filled out paperwork and each one of us was given the vaccine via a sugar cube. The tiny sugar cube provided a sense of relief for parents everywhere. It calmed the jangled nerves the country had experienced over the polio plight.

Since that vaccine became the norm for children, polio virtually has been wiped out of this country. However, it still exists in children and adults in some parts of Asia and Africa.

Now we are in the throws of a pandemic due to new contagious virus known as novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The fear being generated by this latest virus is because of the unknown. Medical specialists are struggling to find its origin. Until then, COVID-19 has no cure. However, not all persons infected with it will succumb. Most healthy people will slough it off like a severe flu.

Yet, the warnings continue for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

My niece just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.

Her doctor recommends staying out of crowds for both of them.

The unknown is the fear here.

Until scientists can come up with answers, it’s time to listen to the experts, stay calm, wash your hands and pray.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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