Jonas Salk
From the beginning of mankind, man has looked for cures of illness. Jonas
Salk found a cure for one of the worst illnesses in the history of man, polio.Jonas Salk's polio vaccine was a great discovery of his time, and it is still
being used today to eradicate polio worldwide. Dr. Salk is also known for other
medical discoveries.

He was a quiet man who lived a rough childhood. He was
not looking for fame, instead, it found him. During the time before the vaccine,
many people, mostly parents with young children, were very scared. Dr. Salk's
vaccine was a great relief to everyone. Yet, today polio is still affecting
people, even after receiving the vaccine.

Just as polio is still around today,
so is the flu virus. Dr. Salk did invent a flu vaccine to help in keeping the
flu virus at a low. At this time, Jonas Salk is working on a vaccine for the
most feared disease of today, AIDS.Jonas Edward Salk was born to Polish-Jewish immigrants, Daniel B. and
Dora Salk, on October 28, 1914.

Dr. Salk was born in upper Manhattan, but then
moved to the Bronx where he went to school. "His first spoken words were, 'Dirt,
dirt,' instead of the conventional, uninspired 'No, no' or 'Momma.' He was a
responsive child.

" Dr. Salk was "raised on the verge of poverty." Although
his family was poor, he did do exceptionally well in all the levels of education.He graduated from Townsend Harris High School in 1929 and then went on to the
College of the City of New York where he received his B.S. in 1934.

He finally
earned his M.D. degree in June of 1939 from the New York University College of
Medicine. Jonas Salk was "a somewhat withdrawn and indistinct figure" but was
always reading whatever he could lay his hands on. Dr.

Salk went on to intern
for two years at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. He then moved on to the
University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as a research professor in the Department of
Epidemology. 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 Pittsburgh expanded, he went to work there with a part in his
contract that said he could go back to Ann Arbor if things didn't work out, no
questions asked.

At this school he became what he is known as today, a
bacteriologist. It was here that he developed the polio vaccination. Dr. Salk
then left his field of endeavor because of all the fame and ridicule from his
colleagues. In 1963, Jonas Salk set up the Salk Institute for Biological
Studies in La Jolla, California. This facility was made possible through funds
from the March of Dimes.

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 would destroy the nerve cells.

As a result of the lost nerve cells,
the muscles that those nerve cells controlled would no longer be functional.Polio has long been a disease in this world. Mummies with one leg
shorter than the other, and a memorial that shows a priest with one leg withered
are two examples of ancient artifacts possibly proving the polio virus's
existence as far back as 1500 B.C.

The first written record of an outbreak of
polio is in 1835. It occurred in Workshop, England with the record stating,
"Four remarkable cases of suddenly induced paralysis, occurring in children...

Nevertheless, it was not until 1916 that the United States became well aware of
the polio dilemma. In that year, there were 27,363 cases of polio with 7,179
resulting in death. Unfortunately, the problem didn't go away; in New York City
there were 9,023 cases with 2,448 deaths. "The epidemics peaked in the United
States from 1942 to 1943,..

.In 1950, there were more than 33,000 United States
cases." The state of Florida was one of the many states that was hit hard with
polio. The director of the Florida Department of Public Health, Dr.

Sowder, said, "I have not seen a communicable disease that has disrupted a this has.

" The disease "was communicable as an 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 its
victim by way of the mouth..." It was not only the fact that it was so easy to
get that made it terrifying, but it was the effects the disease had on its

There would be those 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 more staggering, 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..

.The iron lung hissed and
sighed rhythmically, performing artificial respiration by way of air pressure",
said Charles L. Mee. During the summers in Florida, kids would not be allowed
to go to the movies or to the pools because of the parents fear of them
contracting the virus. Due to the consequences, polio "aroused as much alarm in
that era as does AIDS today.

Finally, on April 12, 1955 it was announced that Dr. Jonas Salk, using a
technique reported by Dr. John F. Enders in 1949, had discovered a cure that
could be depended upon to immunize humans from polio. "Overnight, Jonas E. Salk
was a hero," said Kathleen Arsenault, a librarian at the University of South
Florida at Bayboro.

1 Everyone was so relieved that a vaccine had been found
that they "observed moments of silence, rang bells, honked horns, blew factory
whistles, fired salutes, kept their traffic lights red in brief periods of
tribute, took the rest of the day off, closed their schools or convoked fervid
assemblies therein, drank toasts, hugged children, attended church, smiled at
strangers, forgave enemies." It "consummated the most extraordinary undertaking
in the history of science." Although Dr. Salk tried to take no credit for what
he and his fellow workers had accomplished, the public ignored his words and
gave all the credit to him. Jonas Salk "awakened that morning as a moderately
prominent research professor on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh
School of Medicine. He ended the day as the most beloved medical scientist on

" Dr. Salk did not patent his vaccine, therefore, he did not receive any
royalties for it, though he could have been a millionaire. As it was though, he
received many tokens of gratitude.
"The ardent people named schools, streets, hospitals, and new-born
infants after him. They sent him checks, cash, money orders, stamps, scrolls,
certificates, pressed flowers, snapshots, candy, baked goods, religious medals,
rabbits' feet and other talismans, and uncounted thousands of letters and telegrams, both
individual and round-robin, describing their heartfelt gratitude and admiration.They offered him free automobiles, agricultural equipment, clothing, vacations,
lucrative jobs in government and industry, and several hundred opportunities to get
rich quick.

Their legislatures and parliaments passed resolutions, and their heads
of state issued proclamations. Their universities tendered honorary degrees. He
was nominated for the Nobel prize, which he did not get, and a Congressional
medal, which he got, and membership in the National Academy of Sciences, which
turned him down. He was mentioned for several dozen lesser awards of
national or local or purely promotional character, most of which he turned down."

Salk is thought of most for his polio vaccine, yet he is the
scientist who invented the flu shot. The flu virus is an illness that affects
the digestive track, most often the stomach walls. He and Dr. Francis developed
the vaccine in 1976 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. That vaccine
helps many people today to get through the flu season without any or little

The United States has been free of polio since September of 1991. The
United Nations agency stated that this was true in all of the Western
Hemisphere: the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Even
though the Western Hemisphere is polio free, the rest of the world is very far
from it. There are still approximately 120,000 cases a year.

That number is
decreasing: in 1992 there where a reported 15,911 cases in a total of 58
countries, whereas in 1993 there where only 7,898 cases reported in a total of
46 countries. That is a 50 percent decrease in only one year. There was also
141 countries that reported no cases of polio in all of 1993. One organization
affiliated with polio elimination is The Rotary Foundation. This group has
developed a program called PolioPlus.

This program's goal is to eradicate polio
worldwide by the year 2005. This goal will prove to be a very expensive
endeavor; over 10 years it could cost up to as much as 1.4 billion dollars.One event that has helped make the United States polio free is that children
must have received the polio vaccination before they can enter the public school

Everyone is working together, though, to try and eradicate polio
worldwide. Japan and the United States have agreed to a joint health program
for children to do away with polio by the year 2000. Although the whole world
seems to be on its way to being polio free, the polio survivors are still
suffering. "Nearly a third of the 1.6 million polio survivors have begun to
develop puzzling ailments, such as fatigue, muscle weakness and atrophy, and in
some cases difficulty breathing.

" This "ailment" is known as post-polio
syndrome. The theory behind this problem is "the initial viral attack kills a
number of motor neurons and weakens some of the surviving nerve cells. As the
post-polio patient ages, these damaged neurons increasingly lose their
connections to muscles, which stop responding." Other symptoms that accompany
post-polio syndrome are as follows: chronic muscle pain, sensitivity to cold
weather, and sleeping problems. Of all the polio survivors, ninety percent of
them are predicted to contract post-polio syndrome.

It has been found that from
the time of the original disease to the time of the contraction of post-polio
syndrome is about thirty years. Herman Oliger had to quit work because of post-
polio syndrome. "Any strenuous activity would have to be followed with more
than eight hours of sleep and in some cases, two days of rest." As a result of
this debilitating illness, some people must go back to the use of leg braces or
wheelchairs or even the iron lung. The only organization that has been formed
to help this type of people is the Arkansas League of Polio Survivors located in
Little Rock.

This organization was founded by Margie R. Loschke who is a post-
polio sufferer herself. It is a non-profit establishment, there are no dues,
and they give moral support to those who are suffering. Post-polio syndrome is
an inept thing to happen, yet there are no doctors that are capable of helping
these people. "Polio hasn't been taught in medical school since the vaccine
came out, so there's not but a very few doctors (and) therapists who know
anything about polio and the polio muscles," said Margie Loschke.

As a result
of the polio survivors, physical therapy was born. "And now they've pushed them
away and forgotten all about them." If there were to be an accident involving a
post-polio syndrome person "there'd be nobody in that hospital, no medical

that would know how to handle a post-polio body without injuring
it," said Loschke.Not only are there people being affected by polio in one way or the
other, there are still people being affected by the flu. Jonas Salk also
invented a flu vaccine, however, it is more on a temporary scale. Another
reason the flu is still around is that there are many different strains of the
flu, and doctors have a hard time predicting the ones that will be infecting
people in the up and coming flu seasons.Lastly, Jonas Salk is now working on a vaccine for the polio of today,

He is working on a vaccine made of killed viruses, but so far he has not
acquired any substantial results. In the summer of 1994, the United States did
conduct a large-scale test of Dr. Salk's proposed AIDS vaccine. This vaccine
has shown the "growth of the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, slowed
substantially in infected volunteers given three injections of the vaccine."
However, Dr. David Ho of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center said, "There's
absolutely no evidence that the vaccine did any good.

" Dr. Ho is not alone in
his thoughts, many experts on the Food and Drug Administration panel feel the
same. This panel also said that this has "lowered the standards" and has caused
more confusion on how to treat AIDS patients. It is ironic, in a way, that Dr.Salk is working on a vaccine for AIDS. Some scientists truly believe that "the
AIDS epidemic was sparked 30 years ago by a polio vaccine, which was
accidentally contaminated with a monkey virus.

" Through all the criticism
though, Dr. Salk said, " My job, at the moment, is to help people see what I see.If it's of value, fine. And if it's not of value, then at least I've done what
I can do."
Jonas Edward Salk may be the most well known scientist because of his
polio vaccine. Although he was poor growing up, he did well in school.

standard was continued into his employment as a bacteriologist. During his stay
at Pittsburgh University, the world was suffering immensely from the polio
disease. Dr. Salk was named a hero when he found the vaccine for it. He also
helped in the suffering from the flu viruses. Dr.

Salk has attributed to the
polio free Western Hemisphere of today, yet another problem has arisen in the
post-polio syndrome ailment. Now, Jonas Salk is working on a vaccine for the
dreaded disease at this time, the AIDS virus. It might be possible for one man
to save two generations of people in one lifetime. As Dr.

Salk says, "I have
this way of being right."