polio surveillance: intro & explanation

poliomyelitis: often referred to as – polio, infantile paralysis. Caused by the poliovirus. Naturally occurring only in humans, preventable with polio vaccine. Through exposure (either through infection or vaccination), individuals become immune.

causes muscle weakness leading to an inability to move in ~0.5% of cases (gestation period ranges from hours to days), affecting most the legs and less commonly the head, neck, and diaphragm – death occurs in 2-5% of children and 15-30% of adults. In ~70% of infections there are no symptoms, with post-polio syndrome possibly occurring past recovery.

side note: the poliovirus colonizes in the gastrointestinal tract, incubation period ranges from 3-35 days. The virus is composed of a single + sense RNA genome protected by a protein shell called a capsid, protecting the virus’s genetic material and enable the virus to infect certain types of cells.

Why survey polio?

– poliovirus spreads through interpersonal contamination through infected fecal matter being ingested orally. It can be spread by food/water containing human feces (as well as from infected saliva), those who are infected could still spread the disease despite absence of symptoms

*side note: this doesn’t mean if u eatin ass u get polio unless that person is infected with polio. Get yo self vaccinated before eatin ass, kids.

due to the infectious nature of the virus being spread through human fecal matter, developing countries and countries at war are at highest risk of epidemic due to 1) lack of resource to fully decontaminate food and water, 2) malnutrition leading to increase of polio infection risk / increase of disease severity

– although exposure to the virus through vaccination protects against the specified serotype of the virus, the vaccine requires multiple doses to take effect; individuals in developing countries (especially countries at war or in conflict) lack access to such means

Tf is a group of undergrads at UW doing messin with this polio shit? There’s like the WHO and stuff for that lol

our organization was actually requested by delegates from the WHO (World Health Organization) to develop a polio surveillance device to ship to countries most at risk for going through a resurgence of polio!!

essentially, we were called upon to design and manufacture devices that are: cost-effective, portable, easy to use by technicians in different countries, and effectively pumps and stores possibly-polio-contaminated-water safely (so any virus does not get killed by the heat in the autoclave, does not harm volunteers and workers).


Although I am earnestly starting to keep a log of our project and will update as new developments are made, I must admit that quite honestly I joined this project because I wanted to do something in EWB (Engineers Without Borders) as I had just joined my school chapter that fateful day in my 2nd year at University of Washington. Due to my impulsive decision-making process I randomly walked to the table closest to where I had been sitting prior, and now here I am. I’m part of this now fam.