The disease had been known for many years. When it made an appearance in a town or county, schools closed and children were kept away from each other, because catching this disease could mean debilitating long-term consequences and even death.
In the worst outbreak of the disease, over 58,000 cases were reported in the United States, mostly children though a third of the cases were in patients at least 15 years old. 36% of those who contracted the disease that year – over 21,000 – were left with permanent physical problems, including mild to complete paralysis. If the paralysis was focused on the chest muscles, patients could suffocate unless an apparatus to assist breathing, an iron lung, was available.(more…)