For this lost generation that thinks they know what happened before they were born, read on and try to learn. But I doubt most of you will.
John Andersen: Remembering the scourge of polio
Mar 28, 2020
One of the younger firefighters at the Chippewa Fire District asked me if I had ever seen anything like the reaction to the current coronavirus.
I had to tell him no, I had not. When I was growing up we had measles, mumps, chicken pox, German measles and stomach flu.
We had a lot of kids out of class at one time or the other, but they went home and returned a week later their normal selves.
I remember that some parents had their kids play with kids who had the measles or mumps just to expose them and get the disease over with.
When I was sick as a kid my Mom was at home and she nursed me through the disease. If my Dad became involved, I knew I was pretty sick. Growing up as a kid I had asthma pretty bad. Anyone who has ever had asthma knows what it is like.
That is when my Dad took over measuring and administering medication through a glass nebulizer tube with a big black rubber bulb on the end.
Dad was kind and tried to be gentle, but when you have a compromised airway all bets were off. Dad was a medic/surgical technician during World War II and he knew airway problems. Needless to say, I came through my asthma as a kid. Yet both my parents were afraid of one disease and that fear was shared by a lot of people.
The disease was called infantile paralysis back then, or poliomyelitis. Now we know it as polio.
My parents and my grandparents grew up with the disease. No one knew what caused it. The disease was maddening in its symptoms. Some people had mild symptoms like a headache, some people complained of a stiff neck, some people were temporarily paralyzed. Some people lost the use of their legs.
Others lost the use of the diaphragm muscle as a result of being paralyzed. If you recovered completely at a later time in your life, you could have post-polio complications that include a steady weakening of your muscles. Two to 5 % of the children who caught it and 10 to 15 % of the adults died from the disease.
The disease appeared in the early summer and lasted until late September or early fall. With that time frame, most parents tried to send their kids to summer camp or out of the city in an attempt to isolate them from what people of the time believed was a germ or virus. People thought you caught it like the common cold.
Treatment consisted of reducing fever and other common-sense measures of the time. If you were paralyzed and survived, you were placed in an iron lung. The machine breathed for you by creating a negative pressure in the machine, then switching to a positive pressure so you "breathed.”
The most common side effect was seeing kids or adults using braces or crutches to walk. Water therapy or swimming was encouraged.
The most famous polio survivor was President Franklin Roosevelt. He contracted polio in his early 30s, yet served almost four terms as president of the United States. He was a courageous and determined man.
Polio was almost eradicated from this earth by the work of three scientists —Drs. Jonas Sabin, Albert Bruce Salk and Hilary Koprowski, They found that polio was caused by fecal matter entering the mouth chiefly by contaminated food and water. Working together and also independently, they developed both a live vaccine and a dead vaccine that created herd immunity.
I remember the day I got my polio shot. The entire city of Marshfield turned out during 10 days at the Marshfield Armory. You needed two doses— one was by needle, the other was by mouth. Then the great polio epidemic was over.
There were no anti-vaxxers then. Just parents overjoyed that they and their kids would never have to fear polio. Even today there is no cure for polio.
Drs Sabin, Salk and Koprowski never made a nickel on their vaccines. They did not patent them. No one paid for the vaccine who could not afford it. There was no talk of profit margins. Perhaps, one day soon, we will be great again.
You're full of it. Go ahead Boogyman, tell him how personal accounts don't matter in this thread.