Rotarians learn about polio

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Brundidge Rotary Club recently applauded the news that India had celebrated three years since its last case of polio. India was once considered the most challenging place to end the disease.

Pending final clearance of December and January laboratory samples, the Regional Certification Commission is expected to certify the South-East Asia Region of the World Heath Organization as polio-free in March.

Rotary International and the WHO are closing in on their goal of a polio free world. The Brundidge Rotarians are proud to be a part of the efforts to eradicate the crippling disease.

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Jennifer Garrett, club president elect, presented a program Wednesday on Jonas Salk: The man who saved the children.

At its peak in the 1940s and 1950s, polio paralyzed or killed more than half a million.

Salk was one of the leading scientists of the 20th century and the creator of the first polio vaccine.

In 1947, Salk conducted research on polio, which was also known as infantile paralysis, at the University of Pittsburgh.

Garrett said that Salk was able to develop a “killed virus” vaccine for the disease. The vaccine used polio viruses that had been grown in a laboratory and then destroyed.

Preliminary testing of the polio vaccine began in 1952 and expanded over the next two years. The testing of the polio vaccine was one of the largest clinical trails in medical history.

Polio crippled people of all ages, but mostly young children. So, although parents were skeptical of the vaccine, they were more terrified of the disease.

To demonstrate to the masses that the vaccine was safe, Salk inoculated himself and a general feeling of hopefulness spread across the country, Garrett said.

On April 20, 1955 the Salk vaccine was determined to be safe and effective.

Signs were posted that read, “Salk Vaccine Works” and “Thank You, Dr. Salk!”

Today as the polio in nearing eradication, the Brundidge Rotary Club is joining people around the world in saying again, “Thank you, Dr. Salk” and thank you, too, to all of those who have been and are a part of the eradication of a terrible disease that crippled and killed thousands.