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50 Years Ago

Polio could return after near eradication

Excerpt from the June 13, 1964, issue of Science News Letter

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4:39pm, May 29, 2014
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NO POCKETS OF POLIO — The pockets of polio left in this country can be wiped out if every newborn baby is immunized. “We need a door-bell ringing campaign in the poorer sections where vaccination is ignored,” Dr. Donald A. Henderson, surveillance chief of the U.S. Public Health Service’s Communicable Disease Center, Atlanta, Ga., told SCIENCE SERVICE…. Dr. Albert B. Sabin, University of Cincinnati Medical Center scientist who developed the Sabin oral live-virus polio vaccine that in three years has been used for more than 250 million persons, ... says that “systematic ongoing programs” with oral vaccines must be kept in operation for the new generations of children if polio is to be eliminated. — Science News LetterJune 13, 1964

UPDATE

Polio was considered eliminated in the United States by 1979, but since then vaccination rates have slipped, prompting concerns about reemergence. On May 5, the World Health Organization declared polio a global emergency. At least 10 countries are reporting polio cases this year, with potential for spread via international travel.

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