Off the Record

Greta: The global polio threat is back and America needs to lead

'Off the Record,' 5/7/14: The US needs to step up fast and be the leader in global health to combat the reemergence of this highly contagious disease

 

By Greta Van Susteren

Let's go "Off The Record." And I don't want to be an alarmist, but I also don't want to be dense, ignoring the obvious. Here is a very disturbing new fact: A global polio threat is back.

Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Somalia and even Nigeria are just a handful of countries where right now, polio is spreading. It is not here in the United States, at least not yet. But decades ago, we had catastrophic polio outbreak, but fortunately, it was irradiate, but this is nothing to ignore. Polio is highly contagious. And yes, you can die from polio.

Maybe I'm an alarmist because I travel even to those countries, and of course, people from those currently polio-stricken countries even travel, too. They even come here to America, and maybe I'm worried - too worried because I have a vivid memory as a child.

My entire town of Appleton, Wisconsin, we all lined up at a local public school -- consecutive Sundays to get the polio vaccine on a sugar cube. By the way, I hated those sugar cubes with that vaccine, and I was a stupid kid. So, when no one was looking, I pocketed the sugar cube-laced vaccines dispensed to me, only to toss them out later when no one was looking.

But I have grown up, gotten smarter, and I know it's a real health crisis and this could be a big one. The United States needs to step up fast, be that leader in global health around the world. Stop polio before it stops us. We can't wait. And that's my "Off The Record" comment tonight.