HSE battles new wave of polio issues 30 years after last recorded case

More than 30 years after the last Irish case of polio was recorded, the health service is treating a new wave of patients struggling with the complications of the disease.

Up to three new patients a month are presenting with post-polio syndrome at Beaumont Hospital, most of them drawn from among the new Irish communities.

Consultant neurologist Prof Orla Hardiman says about 70 per cent of the new patients at her post-polio clinic were born outside Ireland.

The polio epidemic finished in the 1950s, and there were a few people in the 1960s who had polio. But were seeing a new wave of people now, a lot of Nigerians, Indians, people from Asia who would have had polio in childhood, are here now and they need some support.

Initial recovery

The last case of polio in Ireland was recorded in 1984, but post-polio syndrome affects survivors many years after their initial recovery. Late-occurring effects include muscle and joint pain, lack of strength and increased muscle weakness, fatigue, breathing and swallowing problems, and severe intolerance to cold weather. There are an estimated 7,000 survivors of polio in Ireland today.

In the winter, they may need to turn the heat on even during the night, because their intolerance to cold is severe

Prof Hardiman said over the past 23 years around 800 patients have presented to her post-polio clinic.

The Post Polio Support Group (PPS) was founded in 1993 to provide support and services to polio survivors. It currently has 930 members with 22 socia....

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