Put an end to it

A hospital respiratory ward in Los Angeles in 1952 cares for Americans who have become debilitated by polio. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

At its height, polio haunted American families across the country. The disease seemed to spread easily among children. It caused paralysis, severe breathing difficulties and, in some cases, death.

“In the late 1940s, polio outbreaks in the [United States] increased in frequency and size, disabling an average of more than 35,000 people each year. Parents were frightened to let their children go outside, especially in the summer when the virus seemed to peak,” according to information on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Travel and commerce between affected cities were sometimes restricted. Public health officials imposed quarantines (used to separate and restrict the movement of well people who may have been exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become ill) on homes and towns where polio cases were diagnosed.”

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