India's last reported polio victim 'leads normal life'

January 13, 2014 by Sailendra Sil

When her friends, brother and sisters run around playing in their village in eastern India, four-year-old Rukshar Khatoon simply watches.

Although Rukshar can walk, the pain in her right leg from the polio she contracted as a toddler is too much to bear.

"She can now stand on her feet and walk, but can't run," her father, Abdul Saha, said from their home in dirt-poor Shapara village, about 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the city of Kolkata.

"When her friends play, she remains a spectator," he told AFP.

"Rukshar often feels pain in right leg (even) after a walk," her mother Sabeda Bibi Saha added.

Although Rukshar's story is tragic, doctors and are confident that her case is cause for hope. Rukshar is the last known person in India to have contracted the crippling virus.

India on Monday marks the third anniversary of the day Rukshar was diagnosed on January 13, 2011, meaning India will soon be certified as having defeated the disease, in a huge advance for global eradication efforts.

For Rukshar, life has steadily improved since she was diagnosed when she was 18-months old. Doctors and her family say her leg is getting stronger thanks to treatment and she also goes to school.

"She is now going to school and leading a normal life," said Nilanjan Mondal, a medical officer from the local health centre.

"We are closely monitoring her condition," Mondal added.

But her father is filled with guilt for failing to get her vaccinated when he had the chance. Rukshar was ill with an unrelated ailment when she was due to be vaccinated and missed it.

Her parents ensured their son was immunised but did not follow up with their two daughters.

"It was a grave mistake," Saha said as he sewed sequins onto cloth at their two-room home as part of his job.

"I took my fourth child, now one and a-half-years-old, for the pulse polio programme without any delay," he added.

Related Stories

India marks 1 year since last polio case

January 13, 2012

(AP) -- The top U.S. health official administered polio vaccination drops to children in New Delhi on Friday as India marked one year since its last case of the crippling disease.

India celebrates polio success, but sad legacy remains

January 10, 2014

Teenage shoe-shiner Amit contracted polio as a toddler, leaving him with damaged legs and a twisted spine. He has never seen a doctor and the country's eradication of the disease came too late for him.

Recommended for you

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.