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Infantile paralysis (polio)

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Infantile paralysis (polio)

Postby TinaK » Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:00 pm

A second cousin contracted infantile paralysis at his school (along with 3 others, who survived) and, after an illness of only 3 days died - on Christmas Day 1938, aged only 16.

While I know there was no prevention, much less cure, for polio then - does anyone know if it was fairly common then, and how was it transmitted?

Grateful for any info.
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RE: Infantile paralysis (polio)

Postby Elin » Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:23 pm


I was born later in 1952, there were was a vaccine then but many people rejected it for their children and it hadn't been around for the older generation. When I was about 6 there was an epidemic. Almost every family in our area was affected, many died or were paralysed.Our neighbour was in an iron lung for life and two of my friends ended up in wheelchairs.
We were hardly allowed out at all and there were huge bonfires with people burning clothing and furniture. It felt like the plague had taken hold, the fear was tangible.

I think that was about the time when innoculation became much more accepted and so the disease was almost wiped out.

Best wishes,

Best wishes

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RE: Infantile paralysis (polio)

Postby paulberyl » Mon Feb 04, 2008 4:23 am

There was a polio pandemic in the first half of the 20th Century. In Britain it became a notifiable disease in 1912; the disease peaking in 1947 following the return of soldiers from the Far East, at the end of the 2nd World War, where polio was prevalent. In the USA the peak year was 1952.

A vaccine was developed in 1952 and trials began in 1954. Whilst by 1957 the vaccine was widely available it was not until the 1960s that the vaccine was extensively used.

One of the most horrific photographs I have seen was of an American hospital ward full of people in "iron lungs" (from memory there were at least 30 "iron lungs" in the picture).


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RE: Infantile paralysis (polio)

Postby NursePaula » Sun Feb 17, 2008 7:20 pm

Polio is transmitted through infected food and water, and through faeces [:'(]
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RE: Infantile paralysis (polio)

Postby margaretabram » Mon Feb 18, 2008 2:00 am

I remember it well - my friend David getting polio and all his toys, clothes, bedding etc. being burned on a great big bonfire at the allotments. This was in the mid 50s. We were told at school by the older children that there was polio in the toilets and I spent weeks in misery afraid to go for a wee in case I caught it. I was part of the guinea pig group for the injections. My mother who was a nurse was so relieved that I was one of the first children to be protected. My grandmother was a school nurse and every year when I went to visit her she produced yet another injection for me - just to be sure. The strange thing is that as an adult I was required to have a booster and it was the oral vaccine. I was very ill for sometime afterwards even though the injections hadn't affected me. Polio was the bogeyman of the childhoods of the baby boomers and sadly some people were damaged for life.
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