The History of Poliomyelitis Better Known as Polio

843 WordsFeb 19, 20183 Pages
The disease poliomyelitis is more commonly known by its alternative name “polio.” The history of this disease dates back into prehistory, but major polio epidemics were not known before the twentieth century. The first clinical description of this disease was provided by a British physician named Michael Underwood, in which he described the disease as debility of the lower extremities. In the 1880s major epidemics started to occur in Europe, then made its way soon after into the United States. The first report of multiple cases was recorded in 1843 and described an outbreak that happened in Louisiana in 1841. The next large outbreak was in Boston in 1893 where there were 26 cases of poliomyelitis. The following year was the first recognized epidemic in the United States which occurred in Vermont with 132 total cases, including 18 deaths. By 1907 there were approximately 2,500 cases of polio reported in New York City alone. By 1910, epidemics of polio were regular events throughout the developed world, mostly in cities during the warmer months. In 1916 there were over 27,000 cases including more than 6,000 deaths due to polio in the United States, with more than 2,000 deaths occurring in New York City alone. Poliomyelitis hit its peak in the 1940s and 1950s; it paralyzed or killed more than half a million people per year. The etiology of poliomyelitis is infection with the poliovirus, which is spread through direct person to person contact, contact with infected mucus or
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