In 1952, The Polio epidemic happened, each of the 48 states at the time had rampant cases of Polio. The un-curable disease had taken over America. Poliomyelitis is an infectious viral disease that attacks the nerve cells and sometimes the central nervous system; it is caused by the destruction of nerve cells in the spinal cord. Polio often causes muscle wasting, paralysis, and even death.1 In surveys of what Americans feared most, Polio came in second to the Atomic Bomb. Children were the main target of Polio and until Dr. Jonas Salk’s Polio Vaccine that became available in 1952, there was no cure for the disease
Polio was often called infantile paralysis because the majority of the infected were elementary school children. “It must have been profoundly difficult in that first quarter-century of polio. How helpless parents must have felt to know that there was this killer that could come each summer, and that nothing they could do could safeguard their children. Every sniffle, every cold, every muscle cramp, every temper tantrum that a child exhibited in the long, hot days of summer and early autumn were potential symptoms of polio. How long could a family show good spirits in front of a child confined to an iron lung, or later, during the two or more years a child might spend in rehabilitative therapy.” This quote is really significant in the fear that polio had over people. Every parent had no way to defend their kids from the disease. Sending children to school was extremely difficult because many schools were shut down from massive outbreaks of polio. Not only schools but also every other public place; restaurants, grocery store, movie theaters, etc. No one would leave the comfort of their own home, and even then they weren’t safe from Polio, they were just safer there than anywhere else. 2
A very notable case of Polio was Franklin D. Roosevelt. Even though it was children who were especially vulnerable, Adults...