Tag Archives: polio

Sister Kenny: the forgotten Nightingale

Anand Raja Devaraj Sushama Kerala, India   Elizabeth Kenny photographed in 1915. Unknown photographer. Item held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Medical practices flourish and fall out of favor with time. Some become the norm only to turn redundant later; others prevail after a hard battle for acceptance. A campaign is even […]

The history of polio and cigarettes, and the need for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Daniel Gelfman Indianapolis, Indiana, United States   Polio Vaccine and Fundraising Matchbook. Photograph at the Science History Institute, Philadelphia. Photo Credit: Daniel Gelfman, July 3, 2021. Depicted in this display (Picture 1) at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia are technologic marvels. The first is a box that contained early vials of Dr. Salk’s formalin […]

W.W. Keen: physician to the presidents

Kevin R. Loughlin Boston, Massachusetts, United States   Figure 1. The cheek retractor used in Cleveland’s operation. From The surgical operations on President Cleveland in 1893 by W. W. Keen. 1917. Via the Internet Archive. William Williams Keen served in the American Civil War and was present at the first and second Battle of Bull […]

A walk with giants

Herbert Ausubel Valley Stream, New York, United States   Herbert Ausubel HMS making rounds with Dr. Eliot Joslin the morning after Dr. Joslin underwent an appendectomy. Drawing by Dr. Ernest Greenberg and Louise Chiasson. Having had the opportunity to receive a medical education at Harvard Medical School, I was exposed to several individuals who were […]

The last iron lungs

Charles Halsted Davis, California, United States   This photograph depicts an opened Emerson respirator, also known as an iron lung. Photo by Jim Gathany. Via CDC/ GHO/ Mary Hilpertshauser. Public Domain. Source In the springtime of my internship year, I rotated onto the polio ward where I learned that poliomyelitis could kill by paralyzing the […]

COVID-19 and the Black Death

Colleen Donnelly  Denver, Colorado, United States   A street during the plague in London with a death cart and mourners. Colour wood engraving by E. Evans. Wellcome Library no. 6918i. Source During the fourteenth century waves of the bubonic plague washed across Europe. Doomsday books of the age described an apocalypse that wiped out one-quarter […]

A Cold War Vaccine: Albert Sabin, Russia, and the oral polio vaccine

James L. Franklin Chicago, Illinois, United States   Albert Sabin (second from left) and Mikhail Chumakov (third from left). Credit: Courtesy Hauck Center for the Albert B. Sabin Archives, Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions, University of Cincinnati Libraries. Fair Use. In the midst of the 2020 Covid–19 pandemic, when […]

Philip Roth’s Nemesis: a lesson for today

James Franklin Chicago, Illinois, United States   Polio patient in a wheelchair. Images like this were used to encourage individuals to receive polio vaccinations, which were made available in April, 1955. CDC Public Health Library. Source.  As we grapple with the impact of the current pandemic caused by the coronavirus, Covid–19, we may wish to seek […]

Salk and Sabin: the disease, the rivalry and the vaccine

Kevin R. Loughlin Boston, MA, United States   Jonas Salk was born in a tenement in the East Harlem section of New York City. Albert Sabin was born in Poland and as a child immigrated to the United States with his parents. From these humble beginnings, they would emerge as two of the preeminent scientists […]

Polio conundrums

Denis Gill Dublin, Ireland   Ancient Egyptian stele of Ruma For most children, infection with the polio virus caused no symptoms or a minor illness.  But about 1% of those infected experienced paralysis of one or both lower limbs. Worse still, bulbar paralysis could lead to the  inability to breathe. The effects of polio were […]