Today 28 October 2014 Google is celebrating the life and legacy with a Google Doodle dedicated to Jonas Salk. With the Ebola Virus causing headlines across the globe today’s google doodle is very relevant to the current Ebola Virus scare. Jonas Salk was an American Medical Researcher and Virologist.
Jonas Salk was responsible for discovering and developing the first ever successful vaccination against polo. His research and discovery lead to the cure for Polo which were at one stage one of the most dreaded diseases on earth much like the Ebola scare today. Jonas Salk was born in New York, New York in the USA on the 28th of October 1914. Today exactly 100 years ago. Jonas Salk passed away in La Jolla, California in the USA on the 23rd of June 1995 at the age of 80.
He was most famous for his work in Medical research, Virology and epidemiology which lead him to the discovery of an antidote (vaccine) for Polio.
Jonas Salk and The worst disease of the postwar era
Polio was a medical oddity that baffled researchers for years. It was first recorded in 1835 and grew steadily more prevalent. It took a long time to learn that the virus was transmitted by fecal matter and secretions of the nose and throat. It entered the victim orally, established itself in the intestines, and then traveled to the brain or spinal cord.
At the start of the 20th century, during the 1914 and 1919 polio epidemics in the U.S., physicians and nurses made house-to-house searches to identify all infected persons. Children suspected of being infected were taken to hospitals and a child’s family was quarantined until that child was no longer potentially infectious, even if it meant the family could not go to their child’s funeral if the child died in the hospital.
According to American historian William O’Neill, “Paralytic poliomyelitis (its formal name) was, if not the most serious, easily the most frightening public health problem of the postwar era.” He noted that the epidemics kept getting worse and its victims were usually children.
By 1952, it was killing more of them than was any other communicable disease. In the twenty states that reported the disease back in 1916, there were 27,363 cases. New York alone had 9,023 cases, of which 2,448 (28%) resulted in death, and a larger number in paralysis.
However, polio did not gain national attention until 1921, when Franklin D. Roosevelt, former vice presidential candidate and soon to be governor of New York, came down with a paralytic illness, diagnosed at the time as polio At the age of 39, Roosevelt was left with severe paralysis and spent most of his presidency in a wheelchair.
Subsequently, as more states began recording instances of the disease, the numbers of victims grew larger. Nearly 58,000 cases of polio were reported in 1952, with 3,145 people dying and 21,269 left with mild to disabling paralysis.
In some parts of the country, concern assumed almost the dimensions of panic. According to Olson, “parents kept children home from school, avoided parks and swimming pools, and played only in small groups with the closest of friends.”
Cases usually increased during the summer when children were home from school. “The public reaction was to a plague,” noted O’Neill. “Citizens of urban areas were to be terrified every summer when this frightful visitor returned.”
Jonas Salk joins the fight against Polio
Jonas Salk new vaccine was by transformed by Alan John Beale’s team, based in Glaxo, England into something which could be manufactured on the enormous scale which the widespread threat of poliomyelitis required.
Within minutes of Francis’s declaration that the vaccine was safe and effective, the news of the event was carried coast to coast by wire services, radio and television newscasts.
According to Debbie Bookchin, “across the nation there were spontaneous celebrations… business came to a halt as the news spread. The mayor of New York City interrupted a city council meeting to announce the news, adding, ‘I think we are all quite proud that Dr. Salk is a graduate of City College.’
“By the next morning”, writes Bookchin, “politicians around the country were falling over themselves trying to figure out ways they could congratulate Jonas Salk, with several suggesting special medals and honors be awarded…
In the Eisenhower White House, plans were already afoot to present Jonas Salk a special presidential medal designating him “a benefactor of mankind” in a Rose Garden ceremony.
Source Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonas_Salk
Jonas Salk Polio and Ebola Virus
As the world faces another Virus it is very appropriate and on the spot of Google today, to celebrate the life and legacy of Jonas Salk. The doodle today provided me with some hope that we will soon find a cure for Ebola and that Ebola will be stopped in its tracks by someone just as clever and innovative as Jonas Salk very soon!