Polio is a contagious disease caused by a virus which affects the throat and the intestinal tract. Still considered one of the most dangerous diseases affecting the human body, polio viruses travel to the brain and spinal cord and start to multiply. This results in the death of nervous tissue, leading to crippled legs or paralysis. Polio was once a major cause of disability in the US. However, after years of hard work, a vaccine was discovered in 1952 by Dr. Jonas Salk. Today, polio has been eradicated in most countries, but still exists in some developing countries.
The history of polio vaccine is also very interesting. 1950 was the year which saw the highest number of polio cases in America. Parents were so afraid that their children might get the polio infection that they stopped sending their children to school. In this dreaded time a young medical doctor, Jonas Salk, was doing extensive research related to the polio virus. Dr. Salk was born in New York City to Russian-Jewish immigrants. Though his parents were not well-educated they ensured that their children received the best of education. Jonas Salk was the first person in his family to attend college. Although he intended to study law first, but he soon became interested in medicine and decided to become a doctor. While he was studying, Salk was invited for a year to study the deadly influenza virus, that had recently been discovered. Salk showed great interest in carving out a treatment for this. After medical school, Salk spent some more years studying influenza. In 1947, Salk was hired as a professor at the University of Pittsburgh. It was at this university that he started working with the Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. After eight years of hard work he discovered the polio vaccine in 1955.
Dr. Salk was hailed as a national hero. Human tests of the vaccination proved successful and the news of the discovery was made public on April 12, 1955. All this fame and success didn't change the good and humble nature of Dr. Salk. He had no monetary intentions, he just wanted the polio vaccine to spread as widely as possible.
As of today polio has been eradicated from almost all parts of the world, and the direct credit goes to great human beings like Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Albert Sabin.