This dreaded disease is remembered with fear by many but is now preventable by a vaccine; the extensive use of which has successfully removed polio from the Americas. The global eradication campaign, however, is still underway and serves to make this book of timely relevance to a wide international audience because it makes a unique contribution to the history of polio, providing personal details from the lives of those who were most directly affected by the disease. The book also makes fascinating reading, as it recalls the very human story of this once awful malady.
Polio is a collection of essays written by nine people who experienced the disease in several ways -- those who suffered, their care-givers, and those who worked to destroy this scourge. An opening chapter recounts the history of polio from its earliest depiction in Egyptian art to the present day. Three personal essays recount the experiences of patients who were paralyzed in youth by polio but survived and built successful lives despite the handicaps with which they were afflicted. The challenges of caring for patients with polio are described by two physicians who worked on polio wards in the United States during the great epidemic years of the 1950s. The story of the cultivation of poliovirus -- a Nobel Prize-winning accomplishment -- and the testing of the resulting vaccine is told by two research scientists who devoted much of their careers to the laboratories where these breakthroughs were achieved. The last two essays -- by senior members of the Pan-American Health Organization -- describe the monumental public health vaccination programs undertaken throughout Latin America that ultimately led to the successfuleradication of polio from the Western Hemisphere in 1994.