The Pine Bluff Downtown Rotary Club will observe Rotary World Polio Day during its meeting at noon Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the Pine Bluff Country Club.


The guest speaker will be Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, MD, MA, an assistant professor for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health.


Dillaha will discuss polio in Arkansas and bring a special guest who is a polio survivor, according to a news release.


Rotary’s World Polio Day is Oct. 24. During the meeting Oct. 23, the Rotary club will celebrate the birthday of Dr. Jonas Salk, creator of the first polio vaccine, according to https://www.biography.com/people/jonas-salk-9470147 .


“What would you think if you woke up on Monday morning with a slight headache and by the end of the week you could not move your legs. This nightmare has recently occurred to clusters of children in Colorado and Minnesota as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a mysterious outbreak of acute flaccid myelitis which mimics symptoms of polio,” according to the news release.


“Could it happen here? It already has. In 1941, newspapers across Alabama were reporting widespread polio outbreaks across the state. Some simply contracted flu-like symptoms. Others were permanently paralyzed, some died. Why? Polo is a virus that attacks the nervous system. It can be transmitted through direct contact with someone infected with the virus or through contaminated food and water. There is no cure for polio but it can be prevented,” according to the release.


In 1955, Salk developed a vaccine which stopped the virus, according to the release.


“In 1979, Rotary, an international service organization, and the Pine Bluff Downtown Rotary Club chose to lead the way to eradicate polio around the world and thus help protect all of us. As a result of Rotary’s efforts, over 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated and protected from polio,” according to the release.


“In 1979, there were over 350,000 polio cases world wide in over 100 countries. As of today, only two countries are still reporting cases of the wild polio virus. But we can not rest until every country gets the all clear. Teams of doctors, nurses, researchers analysts and field study personnel must be supported along the way in order to keep polio at bay and ultimately defeat it. The vaccine itself is very inexpensive because Dr. Salk, and those who followed him, chose not to get a patent, recognizing this life-saving discovery was bigger and more beneficial to the world than any paycheck. Salk is a true inspiration of the love he had for his fellow man,” according to the release.


The Pine Bluff Downtown Rotary Club invites the community to join them in helping to end polio. To make a financial contribution, contact a local Rotary club or visit rotary.org.