Kilgore Rotarians donated $3,300 to Rotary District 5830, the local club's part of an international effort to eradicate polio – so far in 2017 there have only been 12 cases reported between two countries in the Middle East.

Helping fund the fight, “That's $100 for each of our members,” club president Terry Booker reported.

Tuesday, Oct. 24, is World Polio Day and the local civic organization is joining other clubs in the region, throughout the state, across the country and around the world in raising funds to fuel the ongoing eradication of the disease.

With the added weight of Microsoft's Bill and Melinda Gates, the Kilgore Rotarians donation will fund almost $10,000 in the global struggle, which has seen a steady reduction in cases in the past 32 years of the PolioPlus Program.

The Gates Foundation is matching all Rotary polio donations two-for-one up to $50 million every year, and Rotary International is shooting for the max again this year.

According to the latest statistics in Rotary's regular Polio Eradication Update, there have been 12 paralysis cases reported worldwide to-date in 2017 – at this time last year, monitors had counted 27 cases. Calendar year 2016 saw 37 total cases compared to 74 in 2015 and 359 in 2014.

In the past week, there were no “wild” polio cases reported in Pakistan or Nigeria, but one is being monitored in Afghanistan.

Endemic countries currently include Pakistan (20 cases in 2016, five in 2017), Afghanistan (13 in 2016, seven this year) and Nigeria (which saw four cases last year, none so far this year).

When Rotary International targeted the disease in 1985, polio cases totaled about 350,000 annually.

“Rotary and its partners are closer than ever to eradicating polio,” according to Michael K. McGovern, chairman of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee, which leads the organization’s polio eradication efforts. “World Polio Day is the ideal opportunity to celebrate our successes, raise public awareness, and talk about what is needed to end this paralyzing disease for good.

"To protect all children from polio, world governments and donors must see through their commitments to fund critical work and support rigorous disease surveillance in both endemic and at-risk polio-free countries."

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