Today is Jonas Salk's 100th birthday. Salk, who reimagined the idea of a vaccine by suggesting that immunity could be established in the body by using inactivated viruses chose not to patent his polio vaccine, which he first tested on his own family. [more inside]
A timeline of diseases and vaccines [warning: graphic photo of cutaneous diphtheria at year 1975]. Categories are: diphtheria, measles, polio, smallpox, yellow fever, and 'others'. You can select one keyword to view only that subject's timeline. From the History of Vaccines website (about page | FAQ). Similar timelines at the same site for pioneers, science and society, and there's an En Español timeline, too. [more inside]
It's not all bad news. People are living longer, we're winning the fight against malaria, worldwide poverty is down, and eight more reasons for hope in the coming year.
Maalin told The Boston Globe in 2006 that he had several opportunities to receive the smallpox vaccine, but initially avoided it because he was afraid the shot would hurt. "Now when I meet parents who refuse to give their children the polio vaccine," he told the Globe, "I tell them my story. I tell them how important these [polio] vaccines are. I tell them not to do something foolish like me." -- Ali Maow Maalin was the last person in the world ever to get smallpox and dedicated his life to help eradicate another disease, polio, in his home country of Somalia. Sadly he passed away two weeks ago.
The Sessions, which opens nationally on October 26th, is a film depicting the true story of the therapeutic relationship between the disabled poet Mark O'Brien and the professional sexual surrogate Cheryl Cohen Greene, to whom O'Brien lost his virginity at the age of 36. The film, adapted from O'Brien's moving essay "On Seeing a Sex Surrogate," was written and directed by Ben Lewin, who, like O'Brien, contracted polio at the age of six. [more inside]
Recently, the World Health Organisation anounced that India has officially broken the chain of Polio transmission, with no new cases reported in the last year. Following independent checks of the reporting laboratories, Indian Health Minister announced that WHO "has taken India's name off the list of polio endemic countries". [more inside]
"You should view the world as a conspiracy run by a very closely-knit group of nearly omnipotent people, and you should think of those people as yourself and your friends." On this day 5 years ago Robert Anton Wilson died. Maybe. [more inside]
With the help of Bill Gates, the World's efforts to eradicate polio (PDF) have over the last few years gained a great deal of new hope (TED) [more inside]
Polio: A Virus’ Struggle is a Graphic Novella by James Weldon. When we eradicate a disease, do we ever think about how it may effect the disease? Learn all about the history of Poliomyelitis, as he tells his story to the group.
Dianne Odell passed away today. After contracting polio at age 3, she spent 58 years in an iron lung. "It's the only thing I know," she said. "I'm comfortable with it. I've never had a bedsore, which is remarkable." In 1998 she got a computer and, using voice dictation software, wrote a childrens' book. She died after the power failed and family members were unable to start a backup generator. As late as 1988 polio was still present in 125 countries around the world. Today it has been eradicated in all but 7 countries.
The other day I happened to come upon a music video that is just so grooving, so human and so real, that, well, it moved me, darling. Just check it out. After watching the clip, I learned that these guys are mostly disabled by polio (that's why several of them are in those rather unusual wheelchairs) and that they were living on the grounds of the Kinshasa zoo, which is where the clip was filmed. Then I learned that last year they were seeking to bring a lawsuit against the UN. Then I found some other clips. And now I am a major fan of Staff Benda Bilili. [more inside]
Keep Bush away from the press. Joe Scarborough (in the news lately for asking rude questions about the President's intelligence) opines that "If George Bush has lost his ability to give a commanding presser, then stage manage him differently. Play to his strengths... Show him only in settings where he is in control." Curiously, while Bush's press conferences have become unsetllingly less coherent in recent days -- even for him -- the so-called liberal media and even the blogosphere have barely mentioned it (perhaps in the spirit of preserving the dignity of the office, like FDR's wheelchair?) Example: watch this video -- what happens at 1:34 or so, right before the President abruptly terminates the questioning? Will Bush in his twilight years, as Foxborough advises, become like Ronald Reagan, protected from public humiliation by his faithful staff?
It is estimated that due to an infected polio vaccine, 10 million to 30 million people in the United States from 1955 through early 1963 were inadvertently exposed to live Simian Virus #40, a pathogen linked to various cancers. If it happened before, maybe it happened again. Perhaps AIDS was just another accidental contamination originating in an American lab - this time a hepatitis vaccine gone wrong. Why assume conspiracy Dr Cantwell?
"It was a terrible time." (bugmenot) "50 years ago, Rhode Island suffered through its last -- and worst -- polio epidemic." [more inside]