Incidence in Ireland
There has never been an accurate figure of how many people had developed the acute phase of the disease, nor estimates of how many had the asymptomatic (non-paralytic) version. In Ireland, following work in 1996 by Julian Hart of Trinity College, Dublin, at the request of Polio Survivors Ireland, a figure of some 7,500 acute case survivors in Ireland was derived.
The best international estimates to date have come from work conducted in the USA in 1987 where responses to the National Health Interview Survey by the National Center for Health Statistics calculated that there were 1.63 million polio survivors at that date. Halstead (1998) estimated that 5 – 10% of that population had died thus calculating that there were 270 surviving acute cases per 100,000 of population.
Ahlstrom et al (1993), in their Swedish paper, derived a figure of 186 per 100,000 of population. An Edinburgh University survey of Lothian (Pentland et al, 1999) derived a figure of 200 per 100,000 of population. The Lothian survey referred to a Norwegian study (Gilhus, 1998) that had derived a figure of some 250 per 100,000 of population.
Therefore, taking these incidence figures and extrapolating them onto an Irish population of some 3.9 million (CSO 2002 Census) it can be demonstrated that there could be between 7,200 and 10,500 acute polio survivors in the community.
Our new National Polio Register has been launched in order to get a clearer picture of the number of polio survivors living in Ireland, so that we can advocate for their needs, now and in the future.