Monday, October 5, 2015

The plague of polio -- Part 2

Dr. Jonas Salk
The Brookville American, in an editorial in early 1942, issued this appeal just weeks after the United States had embroiled itself in a global conflict known as World War II.

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These are days of multiple appeals for public subscription to numerous worthy and essential causes. Franklin County has responded with zealous generosity to each and every plea of these agencies for human well-being and national safety.

Now comes a soul-stirring appeal for generous financial aid to a program of succor which is by no means the least among the many imperative things to which we must contribute today. This cry for help in the alleviation of suffering comes from our children throughout the nation -- helpless little tots upon whom a merciless and thus far unfathomable scourge of death and suffering descends in appalling relentlessness. It comes from our men or medical science who search untiringly for the source of this deadly scourge -- INFANTILE PARALYSIS. It comes from still another group of scientists who probe this baffling killer-crippler in quest of methods by which it can be isolated and treated successfully.

The suffering of these stricken children, the death -- the maiming and crippling -- visited upon them by Infantile Paralysis must be stopped. there is but one way to stop it. Funds and more funds must be made available to care for the stricken and to provide research scientists in their endless vigilance. Some progress is being made, of course, but even a temporary curtailment will mean a slipping backward. Thus, regardless of our other commitments, we must keep this work going.

In making our contributions we might well bear in mind the words of the Master who said, in response to questions asked Him about children, "As ye do unto the least of these, do ye also unto me."

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It would be another dozen years before a doctor named Jonas Salk would help produce and deliver a serum that would control infantile paralysis, known generically as polio.

I wasn't able to learn exactly how successful those fundraisers were in the Whitewater valley, but they were ongoing. President Franklin Roosevelt, a victim of polio, was the natural standard-bearer in the complicated pursuit of a treatment.

Polio was a mystery virus. Nobody in those early days knew what caused it, though speculation centered around polluted water, easy to identify and much more difficult to control.

In 1952, Salk and his fellow researchers finally broke through with a polio vaccine that has largely been responsible for the near-eradication of the dreaded disease.

Albert Sabin is credited with developed a vaccine as well.


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