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The Polio Vaccine

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The Polio Vaccine

The discovery of the polio vaccine was an important medical and scientific breakthrough because it saved many lives since the 1950s. In the summer of 1916 the great polio epidemic struck the United states. By the 1950s hundreds of thousands of people had been struck by the poliomyelitis. The highest number of cases occurred in 1953 with over 50,000 people infected with the virus.

When hygienic conditions were poor polio attacked infants. The disease was spread by contaminated water and contact with fecal contamination. Many infants died when the conditions were poor. But as conditions improved the virus spread differently. It was spread more through playmates and family members, the contamination came from the nose and throat. By the early 1950s, twenty-five percent of paralytic cases occurred in people 21 years old or older.

Jonas Salk M.D. developed the polio vaccine. Salk's vaccine was composed of a "killed" polio virus. This virus kept the ability to immunize while preventing the infection of the patient. Later a "live" vaccine was developed from the live polio virus. This "live" vaccine could be administered orally as opposed to the "killed" vaccine which required an injection. There was some evidence that the "killed" vaccine didn't completely eliminate the virus in the patient. United States public health authorities decided to distribute the oral "live" vaccine to eliminate the polio virus instead of Salk's "killed" vaccine. Unfortunately, the "live" vaccine infected some people instead of immunizing. Countries that used Salk's "killed" vaccine have nearly eradicated the virus.

Jonas Salk received his medical degree in June 1939 from New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Salk moved to A...

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...me additional information about how he created his vaccine.

The Hall of Science and Exploration: Interview page 2; 1-26-99 *http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/sal0bio-2*

The interview gave me knowledge of how Dr. Salk thought and felt about what he was doing. It also told me additional information about how he created his vaccine.

The Hall of Science and Exploration: Interview page 3; 1-26-99 *http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/sal0bio-3*

The interview gave me knowledge of how Dr. Salk thought and felt about what he was doing. It also told me additional information about how he created his vaccine.

Hargrove, Jim. The Story of Jonas Salk and the Discovery of the Polio Vaccine. Childrens Press: Chicago, 1990

This book told me how Jonas Salk conducted his research and what some of his results were. This may have been my most helpful source.
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