Better Know An Epidemiologist/History of Epidemiology is an ongoing feature where Mr Epidemiology pays tribute to people and studies who have set the stage for his generation of epidemiologists. All of the articles are listed here.
Poliomyelitis is an infectious viral disease. It enters through the mouth and is usually spread by contaminated drinking water or food. The virus passes through the stomach and then replicates in the lining of the intestines. Most healthy people infected with virus experience little more than mild fever or diarrhea. However, some people develop paralysis, and some die as a result.
In 1952, approximately 58,000 new cases of Poliomyelitis occurred in the United States. In 1953, approximately 35,000 new cases were reported. This was up from an annual average of 20,000 cases. The 1952 infections left 3,145 people dead and 21,269 with mild to disabling paralysis.
Even before the 1952 and 1953 outbreaks, labs had been worked diligently to find a cure for Polio. Relief finally came when Jonas Salk developed a vaccine.
More after the jump.