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 Jonas Salk was "a somewhat withdrawn and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. Wilson Sowder, said, "I have not seen a communicable
disease that has disrupted a community...as 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