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AP’s Today in History for February 20th

Astronaut John Glenn becomes the first American in orbit; the Rhode Island nightclub fire; Actor Sydney Poitier born; Tara Lipinski becomes the youngest gold medalist in the Winter Olympics.

Breakfast Tune Highway to Hell – AC/DC – Banjo Cover

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The Nearly Extinct Polio Virus Just Resurfaced in Africa

Ed Cara, Gizmodo

The nearly extinct disease polio has made an unexpected and unwelcome reappearance in Africa. This week, health officials in the country of Malawi reported a case of wild polio in a young child—the first spotted in the continent in more than five years. World Health Organization officials are now monitoring the situation.

Polio is a highly contagious disease usually spread through person-to-person contact (often via feces but sometimes sneezes or coughs). About three-quarters of those infected will experience no illness at all, while most of the rest will develop flu-like symptoms. More rarely, the virus can cause neurological symptoms, ranging from muscle weakness to a debilitating and sometimes fatal paralysis. Some percentage of survivors can also experience similar symptoms decades later, which is known as post-polio syndrome.

The virus used to infect millions a year and paralyzed tens of thousands of Americans, often children, during major outbreaks around the mid-20th century. With the help of effective vaccines since the 1950s, though, polio has been steadily beaten back. It’s on track to become the second (or possibly third) infectious disease of mankind to be fully wiped out. In 2021, there were only five wild polio cases reported in two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and just a year earlier, the WHO certified that Africa had become wild polio-free, after years of surveillance had found no signs of circulation—both of which makes this recent case all the more disheartening.