Medicine: The Polio Echo

Years later, symptoms return

Rosalind Ragans can still remember the contagion ward in a New York City hospital where she spent three months as a victim of the 1944 polio epidemic. Of the nearly 600,000 Americans who were infected by the poliomyelitis virus in this century before the development of vaccines for the disease in the 1950s, about 10% died, while many of the survivors, like Ragans, suffered some degree of paralysis. Stricken at age eleven, she was at first confined to a wheelchair, but gradually recovered enough to lead a normal life. Her slight difficulty in walking and partly paralyzed right arm did not...

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