Women As Societies' Change Agents During The 1950's Polio Epidemic

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The 1950's represented the cold war era, symbolized by the red scare, anti-communism, potential nuclear war, and McCarthyism. Patriotic loyalty and conformity demonstrated an allegiance to our country. Citizens who spoke out against US government policies experienced surveillance, being black listed, and labeled communists. The sensationalized conviction and execution of the Rosenberg's for spying, jeopardized our countries' national security and reinforced anti-communism propaganda. Moreover, students practiced emergency ducking under their desk drills to prepare for a nuclear fallout and families purchased bomb shelter for protection. The hyper-vigilance, fear, paranoia, and post - traumatic stress that permeated our country's landscape of being under siege, intensified with the polio epidemic.

Verbally expressing the word “POLIO” brings forth anxiety, trepidation, and thoughts of mortality, crippled bodies, and iron lungs. Once the first shock wears off that you-- in fact, have the disease than the fight for your life begins. This highly contagious illness was unknowingly transmitted by close contact and in fecal matter. Unfortunately, many poor and middle class families' contracted this viral disease, which rapidly destroyed motor-neurons to arms, legs, and diaphragm muscles. Ironically, improved twentieth- century sanitation practices like enclosed sewers and indoor plumbing were cited for this delayed childhood disease. Younger breastfeeding toddlers received maternal antibodies that protected them from the virus. However, older children did not have this immune advantage, they suffered more debilitative disabilities. Sadly, children under fifteen years old, experienced the highest rates of contracting infantile pa...

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...ease, be open to explore alternative ways in handling medical crisis, look to our neighboring countries to learn how they resolved epidemic, encourage practice primary health care that contains immunization and vaccines against the major childhood.

Works Cited

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History of Medicine 72.3 (1998) 464-495

3. Oshinsky, D. M. Polio: an aerican story oxford university press (2005) 350

4. Foertsch, J. Bracing accounts, the literature and culture of polio in post war america

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