Welcome to PolioHistory.org, a website devoted to examining the history of polio and how it was experienced, imagined, and fought by health professionals in America and around the world.
Polio is a frightening disease that is spread by interpersonal contact and contaminated surfaces. Most people who become infected only experience mild symptoms, however in a small percentage of cases the virus can enter the blood stream where it attacks the motor neurons of the spinal cord. The disease can result in paralysis, which can lead to disability or death.
When polio emerged as an epidemic concern during the first half of the twentieth century, it captured both media attention and the interest of doctors, scientists, and health charities. Due to the random nature of polio and its legacy of disability, it is an important disease to study in a historical context. Such analysis yields a richer understanding of science, society, and culture.