The United States had its first major polio outbreak in 1894 in Rutland County

The united states had its first major polio outbreak

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The United States had its first major polio outbreak in 1894, in Rutland County, Vermont leaving 18 dead and 132 cases of paralysis. During this time, Dr. Charles Caverly studied the cases and hypothesized that the disease was not contagious. He is quoted, stating[Mannd]; “The element of contagium does not enter into the etiology either. I find but a single instance in which more than one member of a family had the disease, and as it usually occurred in families of more than one child and as no efforts were made at isolation, it is very certain that it was non-contagious.” It would not be until 1905 that Ivan Wickman would identify the contagious nature of the poliovirus. He suggested that polio was not only contagious but that not everyone who has polio exhibits the same sever symptoms. Poliovirus would not be identified as a virus for another three
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Polio Vaccine 6 years; Dr. Landsteiner and Dr. Popper would filter the spinal fluid of those infected with the poliovirus. It is with this contemporary knowledge in microbiology that they discovered, when injecting the filtered preparations into monkeys, they contracted the virus[Lan09]. Scientists will still be unable to see the virus for another four decades; they knew that poliovirus was smaller than bacteria because the technology of the time allowed them to see bacteria. The journey to vaccination began with Dr. Simon Flexner in 1910. He showed that substances, later identified as antibodies, in infected monkey’s blood survived polio[Fle09]; this would be corroborated by other researchers. It is with this information that researchers indicate that they may be able to create a vaccine to stimulate antibody production in people. Over two decades would pass by without a vaccine discovery. Though the virus continued to instill fear into families’ homes in the Western world. This would only be made worse with the discovery of multiple types of poliovirus. Researchers Frank Burnett and Jean Macnamara discovered that monkeys who previously recovered from polio still became paralyzed when infected with polio from humans. This made it abundantly clear that vaccination would have to cover the different strains of poliovirus. It would be another twenty years before the three types of poliovirus will be identified.[Mannd] It is the invention of the electron microscope, a tremendous milestone in microbiology, which made this possible. Early polio trials proved to be disastrous. Dr. Maurice Brodie tested a killed poliovirus on himself and children; he had 11,000 participants in his trial. Dr. John Kolmer created an attenuated vaccine and tested it in about 10,000 children. [Kol35] Both trials had disastrous results; many subjects died of polio, many more became paralyzed and ill from the vaccines.
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  • Spring '13
  • Atkin
  • Microbiology, Polio vaccine, Poliomyelitis

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