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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Emergency Responders and Pandemics

A LibGuide detailing some historic pandemics and emergency responses to them.

What is Polio?

Polio is a very contagious virus that spreads through person-to-person contact. The virus is life-threatening and disabling, leaving many of those who survive the virus paralyzed and/or reliant on an iron lung to breathe. In the early 20th century, polio outbreaks occurred each summer in the United States, the two largest outbreaks occurring in 1916 and 1952. During the 1952 outbreak, there were over 57,000 reported cases in the US alone, resulting in over 3,000 deaths. Following the development of the polio vaccine in 1955, a mass vaccination campaign aimed to eradicate polio globally. In 2021, polio remained endemic in only two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Learn more about polio at the Science Museum UK.

Polio Information