The Polio Vaccine
Polio also knows as poliomyelitis is a contagious devastating disease that was eliminated from the Western hemisphere in the second half of the 1900’s. Although polio has plagued humans since ancient times, its largest outbreak occurred in the first half of the 1900s, before the vaccination was created by Jonas Salk. The vaccine became widely available in 1955.
The peak of the polio outbreak occurred in 1952, when nearly 60,000 cases with more than 3,000 deaths were reported in the United States alone. However, with Salk's vaccination, polio occurring through natural infection was eliminated from the United States by 1979, and the Western hemisphere by 1991.
Polio is a contagious disease contracted through the ingestion of stool, otherwise known as poop. One could contract it by not washing their hands after using the bathroom or drinking contaminated water. Although the actual sickness only lasts for two weeks the damage done to the nervous system could stay with a victim for a lifetime. Polio was sometimes hard to diagnose because of its flu like symptoms, making it very hard to treat early on. The effects of Polio are different on different people. They differentiate in strain and severity. About 95% of victims have very flu like symptoms such as, diarrhea, fever, sore throat, and a general sick feeling. In about 5% of cases the victim contracts a more serious form that is associated with meningitis called nonparalytic polio. A third and most sever and debilating form called paralytic polio this occurs in about .1% of cases and is typically fatal. Death occurred with polio when the breathing muscles become paralyzed and the victim suffocates.
In the past, some patients with polio never regained full use of their limbs. This would make them appear withered and older than they actually were. However, those who did fully recover might go on to develop post-polio syndrome, known as PPS. PPS can occur as many as 30 to 40 years after contracting polio. The damage done to the nerves during the disease can causes an acceleration of the normal, gradual weakness due to aging. The effects of PPS are devastating. The acceleration of muscle loss causes victims to become extremely dependant on others and trouble them with normal tasks robing them or their independence.
The vaccine developed by Jonas Salk in 1955 was a huge breakthrough in medicine. Jonas was born in New York City to Russian-Jewish immigrants. He received a medical degree from the school of medicine at New York University. He began his testing of his vaccine in 1952 on monkeys. When he found this to be a success he began testing on volunteer parties, including his laboratory staff, his wife, his children, and himself. In 1954 national testing began on two million children, these children were known as polio pioneers. The testing proved to be a success and Salk’s vaccine was released to the public in 1955 and became one of the most amazing medical discoveries ever.
Elvis recieving a polio vaccination
The information from and for this paper was obtained by the following....
"Polio." KidsHealth.org. Ed. Steven Dowshen and Joel Klein. Dec. 2007. Kids
Health. 22 July 2008 <http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/