, often called polio or infantile paralysis, is an acute viral infectious disease which is spread from person-to-person via the fecal-oral route. The majority of polio infections are asymptomatic. In about 1% of cases the virus enters the central nervous system (CNS) via the blood stream. Within the CNS, poliovirus preferentially infects and destroys motor neurons. The destruction of motor neurons causes muscle weakness and flaccid paralysis.

An ancient disease, polio was first recognized as a medical entity by Jakob Heine in 1840. In the early part of the 20th century, the United States, and much of the world, were experiencing a huge increase in the number of polio cases. In 1955 an effective vaccine was developed by the American physician Dr. Jonas Salk. Since then polio has all but vanished from developed countries as the vaccine is universally administered to babies. It has become very rare in developing countries as well.

In 1985, Rotary International, the World Health Organization, and UNICEF began a major campaign to eradicate polio altogether. By 2005 they had reduced world caseloads by 99%; however, progress has since stalled. At time of this writing, about a thousand new cases of polio are reported worldwide each year.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, is generally considered the most famous polio patient in the public imagination. In 1921 he contracted a disease which eventually caused the permanent loss of the use of both his legs. The disease was diagnosed as polio at the time, though modern medical professionals sometimes question the validity of that diagnosis: Polio very rarely attacks adults, and Roosevelt was 39 when he became ill.

Poliomyelitis in "Hindsight"Edit

Pete Lundquist was afraid his sons, Carl and Wayne, would be exposed to poliomyelitis after playing with the neighbors Phillip and Stevie, and so ordered them to wash up when they came home.[1]

Poliomyelitis in Joe SteeleEdit

With his legs rendered useless by polio, New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt was unable to escape from the second floor of the Albany Executive Mansion during a 1932 fire, and perished.

Poliomyelitis in Southern VictoryEdit

Many Philadelphia insiders, including Flora Blackford, believed that if not for his poliomyelitis, US Assistant Secretary of War Franklin D. Roosevelt might have become President of the United States.


  1. Kaleidoscope, pg. 97, MPB.

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