Poliomyelitis (shortened to polio) has been around for thousands of
years, and there is still no cure, but at the peak of its devastation in the United
States, Dr. Jonas Salk introduced a way to prevent it. Polio attacks the nerve
cells and sometimes the central nervous system, causing muscle wasting,
paralysis, and even death. The disease, whose symptoms are flu like, stuck
mostly children, and in the first half of the 20th century the epidemics of polio
were becoming more devastating. Salk, while working at the Virus Research
Lab at the University of Pittsburgh, developed a polio vaccine, and the
medical trials to prove its effectiveness and safety are still being analyzed.
Fifty years ago the largest medical experiment in history took place to
test Salk’s poliomyelitis vaccine. Close to two million children across the
United States and Canada were involved in the trial, which was administered
by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysi...