Tag: polio

Mitchell Jackson stops by and talks about his beloved friend and surrogate mother, Sandie Crisp, aka The Goddess Bunny, a disabled trans icon. She died in January of Covid, after surviving polio and HIV.  Mitchell discusses the ups and downs of her life, stints of homelessness, having her picture hanging in the Louvre, why she’s huge in South America, her hatred of identity politics, the surrogate family she built for herself, and the tragedy of her passing in isolation (due to Covid restrictions) in an assisted living facility. He and Bridget discuss the massive flaws in our system regarding the health and care of the homeless, disabled, mentally ill, and people struggling with addiction. They cover the battle to hold a funeral that did Sandie proud, how she raged against the idea that anyone would ever perceive her as a victim, and why Mitchell is optimistic about the future.

COVID and Reflections on the Polio Pandemic


The Rotary Society is still actively fighting polio today.

On the Friday before the Labor Day weekend, Daughter 3 stayed after school for a few minutes to talk to the substitute teacher of her Bible class. Pastor Mike (not his real name) is the pastor of my in-laws’ church, his wife works in the school office, and they have a daughter in middle school there, so my daughter felt rather free to pepper him with some tricky questions. Over that long weekend, the teacher, who had been feeling a touch under the weather on Friday, progressed to definitively positive COVID-19 symptoms.

We were in the loop anyway through my in-laws, but my daughter received a notice on that Tuesday morning: because she stayed to talk to that teacher, she was considered “exposed” and had to quarantine for 14 days, just in case she got sick too. On Thursday, Daughter 2’s best friend, with whom she had spent most of Labor Day weekend, left school early – she had lost sense of taste and smell. On Friday of that week, due to these and other cases, the school announced that it would close for 2 weeks. Just due to mandatory rules regarding exposure, 1/3 of the staff (to say nothing of a significant number of students) had been ordered to stay home and quarantine. On Sunday, Daughter two said she thought she was having an asthma attack that she couldn’t kick (she has moderate asthma). On Monday it was worse and my wife took her to be tested. We did not get the test results for nearly 24 hours, but when they came they were positive. From that moment on, our entire household was considered exposed and ordered to quarantine.

Nearing a Sunset on Monsters


shutterstock_200494427Some months back, I wrote about how the Guinea worm — a vile and disgusting parasite that used to infect millions in Sub-Saharan Africa — is now on the brink of extinction. There is more good news on the war against two similar parasites. First, and amazingly when you consider just how recently we were powerless against it, polio appears to also be on the verge of eradication. Second, and though we’ve a very long way to go yet, we’re making significant headway against malaria. It’s entirely possible that both of these scourges could follow smallpox into the history books within our lifetimes; with polio, perhaps within the next decade or so.

It’s difficult to overstate how significant the progress has been, especially in Africa, or how heavy the human cost these diseases have wrought. As recently as the year 2000, malaria killed about 850,000 annually; it’s about half that number now. Polio infected about 350,000 in 1988; it was down to a few hundred cases earlier this decade and it’s in the low dozens now, restricted to three countries (Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan). When you consider the human costs endured by so many people for so long, it’s little wonder why some places have struggled to develop.

Getting over the finish lines with these diseases will be an extraordinarily difficult, expensive, and unspectacular affair. For polio — for which the vectors are relatively easy to control — this likely means keeping up what we’ve been doing, albeit under awful circumstances with regard to Pakistan and Afghanistan (bear in mind that polio vaccination programs there were, quite literally, subject to a CIA-sponsored conspiracy). For malaria, it’ll take an ever-changing combination of strategies, including vaccination (a weak one has already been approved and stronger ones appear to be in the pipeline), new products, better deployment of existing ones, mucking around with mosquito genomes, and lots of monitoring. So, so much monitoring.