Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Polio (poliomyelitis), a deadly disease with flu-like symptoms, was a major problem within the United States throughout the 1920s, killing many and crippling countless others. By killing the cells in the nervous system, Polio caused paralysis, specifically in young children. Parents constantly worried about the safety of their children, especially in the summertime. Over time, Polio outbreaks grew more frequent, and in 1952, when 57,628 outbreaks occurred, scientist Jonas Salk publicly announced that he was developing a Polio vaccine. Developed from “killed” polio viruses that were injected into the patient, Salk’s vaccine was able to immunize patients without infecting them. In 1953, one year after Salk announced the development of his vaccine, the trial Polio vaccine was tested on 1,830,000 children. Because test results showed that the vaccine was not only safe but also effective, the success of the newly developed vaccine was revealed to the public on April 12, 1955. The development of this vaccine eased the anxiety of parents whom had previously worried about their children’s health while also eradicating the disease in many countries. This technological advance benefited American society in numerous ways, once again allowing the United States to dominate scientific studies and appease the worries of citizens through scientific advancement and discovery.