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October 24th is World Polio Day

By October 21, 2021November 9th, 2021No Comments

Nelson Clock Face

Mollar Fountain Nelson

Nelson , World Polio Day 2020!

Gisborne Clock Tower - Go Tairawhiti!

World Polio Day: eradication of viral disease tantalisingly close -Giswborne herald

City icons lit purple for World Polio Day Oct 24

A growing number of city icons around New Zealand will be lit purple to mark World Polio Day on October 24 to remember the more than 800 New Zealanders who died from the Poliomyelitis virus during the pandemics of the 1950s.

Infantile Paralysis, or Poliomyelitis epidemics broke out in New Zealand in 1916, 1925, 1927, 1937, 1948–49, 1952–53 and 1955–56. Until the arrival of effective vaccines in the late 1950s, Polio was a devastating virus as it particularly affected children, says Polio NZ Board member, Sue Griffin.

“During the global polio pandemics New Zealand alone recorded around 10,000 cases, and more than 800 deaths,” says Griffin.  “Survivors often suffered from lifelong partial or complete paralysis of limbs or the entire body. In the worst cases, the lives of seriously paralysed patients could only be saved by long periods in a compression chamber or ‘iron lung’.”

In very similar circumstances to the current Covid-19 pandemic, a mass immunisation campaign starting in the late 1950s achieved a high population coverage and eliminated the polio virus from New Zealand.

“If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is that we cannot forget how vulnerable we are as humans to viruses,” says Griffin who is a polio survivor herself. “Just like Covid, the Polio epidemics had a dramatic effect on the life of New Zealanders. Schools and public places were closed and those who caught it had to be isolated until they recovered.”

The colour purple has become associated with World Polio Day following the World Health Organisation practice in third world countries to dip of the little finger of vaccinated children in gentian violet as a system to ensure children were not missed, or given a double dose.

“Although Polio has been eradicated in New Zealand, survivors today are still struggling with the long-term effects known as Post-Polio Syndrome,” explains Griffin.

“The late effects of Polio are common – affecting perhaps as many as 50% of individuals who contracted Polio. They include associated pain in muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.  Depression is also common as everyday activities become harder to perform because of the depletion of the motor neuron pool leading to fatigue.”

The current list of city icons lighting up in purple is:

Hamilton’s ANZAC Bridge

The Christchurch Art Gallery

Dunedin –  Public Art Gallery, Otago Museum, Toitu Museum

Carterton’s event centre

New Plymouth’s clock tower

Gisborne’s clock tower

Palmerston North’s clock tower

Upper Hutt’s fantail

Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre

Nelson’s clock tower

These icons will join others around the globe in being lit purple that have included The Coliseum in Rome, The Houses of Parliament in London, the Sydney Opera House, Table Mountain in Durban, Culzean Castle in Scotland, and The Empire State building in New York.

Taranaki in Purple

Nancy Blackstock and the New Plymoth Clock Tower

Palmerston North Clock Tower

Palmerston North Clock Tower

Palmerston North Clock Tower

Palmerston North Clock Tower

Palmerston North Clock Tower

Hamilton ANZAC Bridge

Hamilton ANZAC Bridge

Hamilton ANZAC Bridge

Sue Griffin and the Hamilton ANZAC Bridge

Hamilton ANZAC Bridge

Hamilton ANZAC Bridge with Megan, Brusce and Jan

Hamilton Reflections

Hamilton ANZAC Bridge

Brusce, Jan, Megan and Sue at the lights.

Carterton Events Centre - Photo Rose Taylor

Toitu Museum Dunedin - Photo Jane Chetwynd

Upper Hutt

Vaccinated - World Polio Day Carterton Events Centre

Vaccinated - World Polio Day Carterton Annetta Sutton

Carterton Events Centre Unity sculpture

Unity sculpture background

Christchurch Art Gallery

Christchurch Art Gallery

Christchurch Art Gallery

Christchurch Art Gallery

Wellington Michael Fowler Centre

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