In far too many minds, polio has been consigned to the dustbins of history, wiped out by the miraculous Salk vaccine introduced more than a half century ago.
There is a measure of truth in that belief — but only a measure.
The disease that spread throughout the world in the 1940s and ’50s claiming thousands of lives and crippling untold thousands more was one of the worst epidemics in this country’s history. Entire communities essentially quarantined themselves out of fear about the contagion of the disease.
There were genuine concerns that the disease could not be checked, worries that were eased and eventually erased when Dr. Jonas Salk introduced his vaccine.
In less than a decade, the epidemic had been arrested. Reports of the disease slowed to a trickle, and eventually those reports were considered rare events.
But polio had not been eradicated.
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