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JAMA Revisited |

The Epidemic of Infantile Paralysis

JAMA. 2016;316(1):107. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.17092.
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All reports agree in characterizing the outbreak of poliomyelitis now making such sad havoc in New York City and elsewhere as a highly serious emergency both for the affected locality and for the entire country. The type of disease is evidently severe, and the mortality already has passed far beyond the figures reached in the great New York epidemic in 1907. The time of year is distinctly unfavorable, summer being usually the period of greatest prevalence. Once the disease has started there is generally an increase in the number of cases until checked in some unknown way by the advent of cool weather. In the Vermont epidemic of 1914 there were 8 cases recorded in July, 88 in August, 142 in September, 56 in October, and 8 in November. The increase that has occurred in New York since June 1, and especially the outbreak of the past two weeks, emphasizes the unpropitious nature of the seasonal conditions. It can hardly be anticipated that the task of combating the epidemic will be materially lighter for some weeks to come, and it may become even more formidable than at present.

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