3121) Polio: Newark, 1916-The Grip of Terror

In 1916, just over a century ago, Newark was struck by a devastating polio epidemic. Most victims were infants and toddlers for whom there were no effective treatments, no vaccines, and no iron lungs.  Per capita, Newark was the hardest hit city in America, with 1360 cases and 363 deaths. Hundreds of surviving children faced a lifetime of disability, giving polio its particular power to terrify. In this class, we will examine the responses and actions of physicians, hospitals, public health officials, educators, the press, law enforcement, and a frightened public, as well as a remarkable rehabilitation campaign led by citizen activists.