January 15, 2006

Whatever Happened to Polio? Online version of the Smithsonian NMAH exhibit.

Most of us have a family member who was affected by the polio epidemics of the 20th century. It had a profound impact on the role of the physically disabled in coiety. This site has some cool photos, quotes from survivors, and historical persepctives. Also, a fun little flash game comparing wheelchair access 1955 vs. 2005.

  • Amazing post, Pants. Have a banana!
  • Fire ! Fire ! Fire ! I am Cornpolio !
  • “The war against polio is nearly over. Victory has been achieved in the Western Hemisphere with eradication of the disease from the Americas. The battle has been joined in the rest of the world, and conquest of this dreaded affliction within the next decade now seems certain.” —Drs. Frederick Robbins, Ciro de Quadros, and Thomas Daniel, 1997 "Eradication"? I do not think that word means what you think it means. "An outbreak of polio struck the Amish community near Clarissa in central Minnesota and state officials confirmed five infections among children. None developed paralytic polio or other symptoms, but it was the first known appearance by the disease in the United States since 2000 and the first in Minnesota since 1992." Jan. 2, 2006
  • My uncle, who is in his fifties, had polio as a child and has a gimpy leg and arm because of it. He's been mobile up till now but the time is coming where he'll be wheelchair-bound. He would have been one of the last in NZ to suffer from polio. According to the WHO, NZ is still at significant risk of a polio breakout if it makes it into the country, as our infant immunisation rate is 82%, while the WHO recommends 90% as a safe figure.
  • Immunise your kids, parents.
  • I could never get my head around the recent controversy over the MMR vaccine. People forget how dangerous the diseases it protects against are, and through their unashamed ignorance put others at risk. There is a compelling case for vaccination to be compulsory without regard to cultural or religious objections.
  • randomaction part of the controversy is that it's a triple injection, combining vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella. some people arguing against mmr are not arguing against vaccination per se, but against vaccination in the form of the triple jab. unfortunately, there hasn't been enough research into this. there are some studies underway in the u.s. that should yield some decent data on the safety of mmr.
  • The flash game was cool but I couldn't figure out how to reload the shotgun. Also, the grenades don't work against the Sleestacks.
  • Great post, very moving pictures. Thanks.
  • There are a few factors randomaction: 1/ Many of the diseases vaccinated against are almost eliminated. People simply don't appreciate the risks of those diseases. Fifty years ago it was a no-brainer for a parent to vaccinate a kid against polio because they knew what polio looked like. If you're a modern parent who sees little change of your kid getting polio it's a tougher sell to expose your child to the risks of a vaccine (and all vaccines have risks, albeit generally trivial) for no apparent benefit. 2/ Selfishness. Plenty of people are willing to make the risks of vaccination Someone Else's Problem and rely on herd immunity. *My* kids aren't going to wear that risk. *Everyone else* can. 3/ Fruitloop "science." There's a whole industry of people looking to attack the idea of vaccination in and of itself. They have elaborate ideas about why a variety of diseases, such as polio, happened to dissapear at exactly the same time widespread vaccination came in. It's all a coincidence/conspiracy/etc. For the most part it's about as credible as young earth creationism or treating Liam Williams-Holloway with a magnetic therapy box. 4/ Random other agendas: the only significant study claiming to have found a link between autism and MMR turns out to have been a deeply flawed mess conducted by a British scientist who has make a career out of acting in malpractise claims.
  • rodgerd: i assume you're referring to andrew wakefield, and i wonder what you mean by "a career out of acting in malpractise claims". i realize that wakefield did not identify his interest prior to publication of the lancet study, but you make it sound like he's some sort of ambulance chaser.
  • Great post. My mother had polio as a child. She was lucky, she came out of it without any noticible handicap, although one of her legs is slightly shorter than the other, and that foot is a half size smaller. Both my parents talked about the polio scares every summer, when they'd shut down all the swimming pools and movie theaters to limit infection. Until I looked at that site, I didn't realize how relatively low the infection rate really was.
  • Great Post - strange for me considering that Kenny from oz - took an overseas trip 12 years ago to UK had to swallow vaccine - ttis time i asked travel doctors laughed - strange to be in the country of one of the protagonists all be it on the rehabilitation rather than prevention side yet have never seen a case or a survicor of - however love reading one of Oz's authors Marshall and 'I Can Jump Puddles" Mother a nurse - talked about it but still cannot comprehend
  • I remember kids in braces and the polio poster child. My mother, too, was a nurse, and she must have worked with polio patients, but she never tried to inspire me with a fear of polio. She wasn't even a fanatic about handwashing, as some nurse-moms are. Perhaps because I was given all my childhood immunizations on time, she had faith in the science.
  • Some of my mother's earliest memories are of her little brother getting hot packs and PT on the kitchen table.