Download Dirt and disease: polio before FDR by Naomi Rogers PDF

By Naomi Rogers

"Will have an enthusiastic viewers between historians of drugs who're accepted, for the main half, in simple terms with later twentieth-century efforts to wrestle polio." --Allan M. Brandt, collage of North Carolina dust and disorder is a social, cultural, and clinical background of the polio epidemic within the usa. Naomi Rogers specializes in the early years from 1900 to 1920, and keeps the tale to the current. She explores how scientists, physicians, sufferers, and their households defined the looks and unfold of polio and the way they attempted to deal with it. Rogers frames this examine of polio inside of a suite of bigger questions on health and wellbeing and sickness in twentieth-century American tradition. within the early many years of this century, scientists sought to appreciate the character of polio. they discovered that it was once attributable to a virulent disease, and that it will probably frequently be clinically determined by way of studying spinal fluid. even if clinical information regarding polio used to be understood and accredited, it was once no longer consistently definitive. this information coexisted with conventional notions approximately illness and drugs. Polio struck filthy rich and middle-class youngsters in addition to the terrible. yet specialists and public wellbeing and fitness officers still blamed polio on a dirty city surroundings, undesirable hygiene, and poverty. This allowed them to carry slum-dwelling immigrants in charge, and to think that sanitary schooling and quarantines might reduce the unfold of the sickness. even if specialists said that polio struck the middle-class and native-born in addition to immigrants, they attempted to give an explanation for this away via blaming the fly for the unfold of polio. Flies might land indiscriminately at the wealthy and the terrible. within the Nineteen Thirties, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt helped to recast a twin of polio and to take away its stigma. nobody may perhaps forget about the cross-spread of the affliction. via the Nineteen Fifties, the general public was once trying to technology for prevention and remedy. yet Rogers reminds us that the hot background of polio was once greater than the historical past of winning vaccines. She issues to competing treatments, learn tangents, and those who died from early vaccine trials. Naomi Rogers is an assistant professor of heritage on the collage of Alabama.

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Example text

But when they found cases among both immigrant and native-born middle-class children they decided that ethnicity was a largely irrelevant epidemiological variable. 9The factor of age was considered important. Epidemic polio was clearly a children's disease; in New York City and Newark around 80 percent of cases were under five years old. The most critical distinguishing factor was the differences noted between rural and urban areas. Polio victims in rural counties in New York State were older than urban children and more likely to die.

S. 7 Page 12 Fig. 1 The rise and fall of the 1916 epidemic in New York City and State Page 13 The shape of the 1916 epidemic can only be partly uncovered, for historians have been left with evidence limited by the categories and assumptions of contemporary investigators. The researchers who studied the epidemic judged certain factors relevant and left out others. Early in the epidemic they expected to find that race and ethnicity would play an important role in explaining polio's spread, reflected by the design of cards for special investigations.

It continues to hold a powerful intellectual and practical appeal: it combines morality and science; it helps to distinguish rich from poor, native-born from immigrant, the ignorant and careless from the informed and responsible. Perhaps with a disease as challenging to traditional epidemiological patterns as epidemic polio these connections became an even stronger part of public health rhetoric. The paradox of epidemic polio was not resolved in the early twentieth century. Clearly it involved the whole community, yet particular groups were singled out for special attention and attack.

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