• Bangalore
  • 10 May 2015
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  • By Sharath Ahuja

Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of discovery of Polio Vaccine

12 April, 2015, marked the 60th anniversary of a miracle that changed the lives of millions of people around the world. It was on this day that Dr Jonas Salk’s inactivated polio vaccine was declared “safe, effective, and potent”

dr-jonas-salk-in-the-1980s

Dr Jonas Salk (1914 - 1995)

Thanks to the discovery of the polio vaccine by Dr Jonas Salk, 99 percent of the world today is declared polio free, and among them India too. On 27, March 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared India a polio free country.

Poliomyelitis often called polio or infantile paralysis is an infectious disease caused by poliovirus, and it mainly affects children under 5 years of age. Poliovirus spreads primarily through the fecal-oral route, especially in areas where sanitation is inadequate. There is no known cure for polio.

Dr Jonas Salk: The Early Years:

Dr Jonas Edward Salk was born in New York on the 28, October 1914, the oldest of three sons of Mr Daniel and Mrs Dora Salk. Dr Salk graduated from Townsend Harris High School in New York and at the age of sixteen he entered City College to study law. He subsequently changed his mind and in 1939, he graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Science from the College of Medicine of New York University. During his last year in medical school, Dr Salk befriended Dr Thomas Francis, chairman of the Department of Bacteriology, who was conducting important research on influenza (flu) virus and other diseases. Dr Salk worked with him for nine months following his graduation from medical school.

Then, Dr Salk worked at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital from 1940 to 1942. Later, he went to the University of Michigan, to work with Dr Francis where he helped him to develop an influenza (flu) vaccine. In 1944, he was appointed as the research associate in epidemiology, and in 1946 he became the assistant professor.

The Turning point in his life:

The turning point in his career came, when in 1947, he joined the University Of Pittsburg Medical School. While working there, with the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, Dr Salk saw an opportunity to develop a vaccine against polio, which had become a much feared epidemic disease in post-war America. He then devoted himself to this work for the next eight years.

 

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