In the Shadows: Poliomyelitis Epidemics and Nursing Care in Edmonton 1947-1955.
Alberta History 2005, Summer, 53, 3
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Poliomyelitis was the most feared of diseases in the first half of the twentieth century, and for Canadians the fourth wave of epidemics during 1947-1955 was the worst. (1) Epidemics had long been part of the Canadian heritage, but although rapid advances in science and technology had substantially reduced the impact of several other communicable diseases such as smallpox, cholera, typhoid fever, scarlet fever, and tuberculosis, early scientific efforts to minimize poliomyelitis infections were less successful. With no remedy for the disease, Canada's scientific contributions in the development of an effective Salk vaccine at Connaught Laboratories had a significant impact on the international history of poliomyelitis. Ultimately, Salk vaccine mitigated paralytic polio by producing antibodies in the bloodstream of vaccine recipients, while the oral Sabin vaccine effectively controlled poliomyelitis outbreaks by protecting the gastrointestinal system from infection. The valiant contributions of nurses performing their gruelling work during epidemics of poliomyelitis have not been particularly well documented. (2) Nurses were also conspicuously absent from the five International Poliomyelitis Conferences held every three years, although the purpose of the conferences was to primarily evaluate the social and prevention aspects of scientific progress. (3) While conducting research for a 2004 exhibit at the Provincial Museum of Alberta in Edmonton entitled "Every Mother's Fear: Alberta's Polio Experience," curator Matthew Wrangler interviewed some nurses who worked in Edmonton during the poliomyelitis epidemics. In a brief historical account of poliomyelitis, with particular reference to the 1947-55 epidemics in Edmonton, excerpts from his conversations have been modified and presented here. (4) The predominant focus is describing the nursing care of patients in iron lungs; other aspects of infection like post-polio syndrome are not addressed here.
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- Categoria: Storia
- Pubblicato: 22/06/2005
- Editore: Historical Society of Alberta
- Pagine: 18
- Lingua: Inglese