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Title: Figure 1: An Ancient Disease
Text: Polio dates as far back as the beginnings of mankind. Specifically, the ancient Egyptians appeared to have depicted the disease in carvings and paintings. The paintings revealed individuals debilitated with withered limbs and using canes to aid themselves in mobilization (2).
Title: Figure 2: Polio in the 18th Century
Text: In 1789, English physician Michael Underwood first described polio as a debility in the lower extremities of children in his book A Treatise on the Diseases of Children (2).
Title: Figure 3: Heine, Medin, Wickman
Text: In 1840, Jakob Heine published a monograph and labeled the disease as infantile paralysis due to its prevalence in children. In 1890, Karl Oskar Medin proposed that polio was an infectious disease. However, it was Otto Ivar Wickman, a Swedish physician studying under Medin, who confirmed through clinical and epidemiological studies, that polio could be transferred through physical contact and that it was highly contagious. As was tradition, in 1905, Wickman named the discovery after his mentor and predecessors: Heine and Medin (5).
Title: Figure 4: March of Dimes
Text: While localized epidemics of polio ravaged communities in the United States starting in the 19th century, the disease exploded into pandemic proportions during the first half of the twentieth century. This inspired movements and efforts to not only aid and accommodate those in need, but a pursuit for a scientific cure. Perhaps the most famous polio story in the United States was President Franklin D. Roosevelts. He went on to established the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP) in 1938, a grassroots organization that provided care for polio victims and scientific research for a vaccine. Today that organization is known as the March of Dimes (5).
Title: Figure 5: Dr. Jonas Salk
Text: With recruitment and funding from NFIP, Dr. Jonas Salk, a doctor with background in clinical medicine and virology research, searched for a polio vaccine. Salk wanted a vaccine composed of a virus that could be inserted into the body without risk of illness as he done with the creation of the influenza vaccine for the US Army during World War II. From 1947 to 1952, Salk and his team grew the poliovirus in monkey kidney cells and then inactivated it by diluting the virus in formaldehyde (also known as formalin). After numerous tests and trials, the inactive vaccine worked. By December 1951, the NFIP allowed Salk to test the vaccine as a trial on a group of polio victims (5).
Title: Figure 6: Salks Vaccine a Success!
Text: The small trial proved to be a success. Salks vaccine stopped poliovirus from progressing into some of its more debilitating forms such as motor neuron damage and paralysis and successfully conferred IgG immunity in a vaccinated persons bloodstream, ultimately protecting people from polio infection. In 1954, the vaccine was expanded to a nationwide trial of 1.8 million children in 44 states. The results were staggering. Salks vaccine, which vaccinated against three types of polio, had a success rate of 68% for Type I, 100% for Type II, and 92% for Type III. The vaccine reduced the incidence for paralytic polio from 13.9 cases per 100,000 people in 1954 to 0.8 cases per 100,000 people by 1961. The United States had its last polio case in 1979 (2) (5). However, the global eradication effort continues today.
Title: Figure 7: Sabin's Oral Polio Vaccine
Text: In 1960, Albert Sabin, a medical researcher, developed a new vaccine using a live, but weakened virus. This virus was thought to provide longer lasting immunity and became the preferred method of immunization (2). In todays effort towards polio eradication, the oral vaccine is the most widely used (5).