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Picture of Health

The Polio Virus

Tuesday, April 12, 2005; Page HE02

This 1953 photo provided the first-ever glimpse of a fearsome villain -- the polio virus, responsible for afflicting more than 400,000 Americans, mostly children, between 1930 and 1955. Fifty years ago today, the world learned that Jonas Salk had developed a safe and effective vaccine to prevent the crippling disease. The Salk and, later, the Sabin vaccines virtually eliminated polio in the United States by 1979 and have almost eradicated it worldwide.

To commemorate the Salk vaccine's development, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has opened an exhibit that includes a miniature iron lung (a large steel tube that helped maintain the breathing of patients whose chest muscles were paralyzed by polio), a pair of Franklin D. Roosevelt's leg braces and a copy of the game Candy Land, invented by a woman trying to occupy her children during her polio convalescence. The exhibit also explores the disease's social impact and global efforts to stop polio transmission.

(The Smithsonian Institute)

_____More About Smallpox_____
A Weekly Shot of News and Notes (The Washington Post, Mar 22, 2005)
Rubella Virus Eliminated in the United States (The Washington Post, Mar 21, 2005)
Meningitis Stopper (The Washington Post, Mar 15, 2005)
More on Smallpox

-- Ranit Mishori

© 2005 The Washington Post Company


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