EPISODE 317 In 1916 New York City became the epicenter of one of America’s very first polio epidemics.
The scourge of infantile paralysis infected thousands of Americans that year, most under the age of five. But in New York City it was especially bad. The Department of Health took drastic measures, barring children from going out in public and even labeling home with polio sufferers, urging others to stay away.
That same year, up in the Bronx, a young couple named Daniel and Dora Salk — the children of Eastern European immigrants — were themselves raising their young son named Jonas. As an adult, Jonas Salk would spend his life combating the poliovirus in the laboratory, creating a vaccine that would change the world.
In 1921 a young lawyer and politician named Franklin Delano Roosevelt would contract what was believed at the time to be polio. He would use his connections and power — first as governor of New York, then as president of the United States — to guide the nation’s response to the virus.
FEATURING: The story of Albert Sabin and the origin of the March of Dimes.
ALSO: The second half of the show is devoted to the question — who came up the first vaccine anyway? Presenting the story of Edward Jenner — and a cow named Blossom.
LISTEN NOW — NEW YORK AND THE POLIO OUTBREAK
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