On February 23, 1954, Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was administered to the children from the Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh, USA, kicking off a trial run of mass inoculations across the nation. By March that year newspapers reported the first major success in polio vaccination reported in history.
For many centuries Poliomyelitis or Polio had plagued mankind. Records of the disease exist from as far back as 1400 BC. It is a viral infection that affects the central nervous system, nerves, spine leaving the patient’s muscles weak and causing paralysis or even death. Though largely affecting children, polio is also known to affect adults and is a highly contagious disease. Till about the 1800s, Polio remained relatively uncommon while other diseases such as influenza, diphtheria, typhoid, and tuberculosis ruled the roost. By the start of the 20th century, however, Polio started to make its presence felt and by mid-century, polio became a fearful disease, dreaded by parents in all parts of the world. Polio epidemic often came in waves, immaterial of the socio-economic stature of the country. The first Polio epidemic swept the US in 1894. It was in 1908 that the Polio virus was identified as the cause of the disease. In 1916, a massive polio epidemic wrecked New York City and within a few years. In 1921, Polio claimed its most famous victim – the young politician Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the future President of the United States. The disease affected him severely and left his legs paralyzed. …(Read more)