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Jonas Salk Essay

2842 words - 12 pages

From the beginning of mankind, man has looked for cures of illness. Jonas Salk found acure for one of the worst illnesses in the history of man, polio. Jonas Salk's polio vaccinewas a great discovery of his time, and it is still being used today to eradicate polioworldwide. Dr. Salk is also known for other medical discoveries. He was a quiet manwho lived a rough childhood. He was not looking for fame, instead, it found him. Duringthe time before the vaccine, many people, mostly parents with young children, were veryscared. Dr. Salk's vaccine was a great relief to everyone. Yet, today polio is still affectingpeople, even after receiving the vaccine. Just as polio is still around today, so is ...view middle of the document...

It was here that he found a vaccine for influenza, commonly called the flu,while he worked with Dr. Thomas Francis Jr. In 1947, when the University of Pittsburghexpanded, he went to work there with a part in his contract that said he could go back toAnn Arbor if things didn't work out, no questions asked. At this school he became whathe is known as today, a bacteriologist. It was here that he developed the poliovaccination. Dr. Salk then left his field of endeavor because of all the fame and ridiculefrom his colleagues. In 1963, Jonas Salk set up the Salk Institute for Biological Studies inLa Jolla, California. This facility was made possible through funds from the March ofDimes. At this time, he is eighty years old and working on a cure for AIDS. 'Poliomyelitis, commonly known as polio, is an acute viral infection.' Polio is the'inflammation of the gray anterior matter of the spinal cord.' The inflammation woulddestroy the nerve cells. As a result of the lost nerve cells, the muscles that those nervecells controlled would no longer be functional. Polio has long been a disease in this world. Mummies with one leg shorter thanthe other, and a memorial that shows a priest with one leg withered are two examples ofancient artifacts possibly proving the polio virus's existence as far back as 1500 B.C. Thefirst written record of an outbreak of polio is in 1835. It occurred in Workshop, Englandwith the record stating, 'Four remarkable cases of suddenly induced paralysis, occurring inchildren...' Nevertheless, it was not until 1916 that the United States became well awareof the polio dilemma. In that year, there were 27,363 cases of polio with 7,179 resultingin death. Unfortunately, the problem didn't go away; in New York City there were 9,023cases with 2,448 deaths. 'The epidemics peaked in the United States from 1942 to1943,...In 1950, there were more than 33,000 United States cases.' The state of Floridawas one of the many states that was hit hard with polio. The director of the FloridaDepartment of Public Health, Dr. Wilson Sowder, said, 'I have not seen a communicabledisease that has disrupted a this has.' The disease 'was communicable asan intestinal virus that would spread from the stomach to the nervous system.' It was'transmitted in fecal matter or in secretions of the nose and throat, the virus enters itsvictim by way of the mouth...' It was not only the fact that it was so easy to get thatmade it terrifying, but it was the effects the disease had on its victim. There would bethose that somehow recovered completely, yet that was not the usual. Some would die,others would not be able to use their legs or both their legs and arms. Even morestaggering, there were those that could only move an arm, or just their fingers and eyes.'Some would remain in an iron lung--a great, 1,800-pound casketlike contraption...Theiron lung hissed and sighed rhythmically, performing artificial respiration by way of airpressure', said...

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