Polio attacks the nerve cells and sometimes the central nervous system, which can cause paralysis or even death. After being appointed head of the Virus Research Lab at the University of Pittsburgh in 1947, Dr. Jonas Salk devoted himself to finding a way to curb the devastating virus. Less than five years later, he invented a vaccine and decided to test it out.
A nationwide testing of the vaccine was launched in April 1954 after working successfully o a sample group. The impact was dramatic: in 1955 there were 28,985 cases of polio in the U.S. and by 1957 that number had decreased to 5,894.
Salk wanted the vaccine to be distributed evenly to everyone. So he never patented the vaccine. Salk gained popularity throughout the 1960's. Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine is now returning to favor because of its lowered risk factor. Today, in the U.S., cases of polio are extremely rare and The World Health Organization hopes the disease will be eradicated worldwide in the near future.
Often times, people who have been infected with Polio will get flu like symptoms such as: sore throat, fever, nausea, tiredness, headache, and stomach pain.
IS IT CONTAGIOUS?
Polio is an infectious disease and its victims tend to be the most vulnerable of the human population. Anyone who hasn't had the vaccine, are susceptible to contracting the infection. When traveling to places where Polio is a wide spread, like Afghanistan and Pakistan, you take the risk of developing the virus. Some additional risk factors are: having a weak immune system, living with somebody that's infected, working in a poliovirus laboratory, and being pregnant (does not affect unborn child).
The polio vaccine is sure to live on in the annals of medical discovery as one of the greatest achievements of medical research. The dedication of Dr. Salk and his contemporaries is highly respected because they won the battle against polio and it is believed that their accomplishments should remind all of the great enabling power that education and knowledge provides to individuals and to the world.
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