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History of Diseases

Explore library resources related to the history of various diseases.


Poliomyelitis has been an communicable disease among humans since at least the classical Egyptian era. Annual epidemics in every country killed and crippled hundreds of children. In 1955  Dr. Jonas Salk developed the first vaccination against polio using a unactivated (killed) virus. Vaccination against polio is now available to all children in developed countries.


Other names

·       Infantile paralysis


Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted through contaminated food and water, and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system. Many infected people have no symptoms, but do excrete the virus in their faeces, hence transmitting infection to others.

Initial symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent. Polio can only be prevented by immunization. (Citation: Oct. 12, 2010)

In biographies and personal narratives

Because many people all over the world contracted the disease and survived it with varying disabilities, there are a comparatively large number of biographies and autobiographies of survivors.  They are primary research material. Below are links to the titles available  in the collections.