Jonas Salk's Polio Epidemic

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In the summer of 1916, New York City was struck by a terrible epidemic. Beginning in Brooklyn, it quickly spread to the other four boroughs. At the time, nobody knew how this disease spread or how to prevent it, so the New Yorkers were sent into a panic. Knowing that diseases lived in filth, the mayor ordered that the streets of New York City be kept clean and to dispose of all garbage quickly and effectively. He also ordered that sick people be quarantined, because that had stopped the spread of sickness in the past. However, these precautions did not stop the spread of disease. During this epidemic, doctors diagnosed more than 9,000 cases with more than 2,400 deaths. This dreadful disease was known as poliomyelitis and was very prevalent in America during the 19th and early 20th century. Continuous epidemics in the United States, such as the one in New York City, left many people desperate for the answers on how this disease was spread and how to control it. This ultimately led to the creation of Jonas Salk’s inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and the complete eradication…show more content…
After Franklin Delano Roosevelt contracted the disease in 1921, he declared a war on polio and created the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP). The NFIP endorsed Elizabeth “Sister” Kenny’s methods for the treatment of polio. In her method, Sister Kenny worked on rebuilding the muscles of a polio victim rather than immobilizing them with splints. She had many successes with this technique. After many sessions, her patients began to improve and some even regained full use of their muscles. However, this was only a treatment, not a cure, and did not work for all polio victims. The iron lung was another important treatment. It was introduced in 1927 by Philip Drinker and his colleagues. In the iron lung, a polio patient would have a cylindrical metal tank fitted over his or her
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