Jonas Salk's polio vaccine revolutionized the health industry.

Image by March of Dimes, courtesy Wikimedia.

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  • On March 26, 1953, University of Pittsburgh scientist Jonas Salk announced that he was testing a polio vaccine. Salk’s vaccine prevented those who took it from coming down with polio, one of the worst epidemics of the 20th century. Polio is very contagious, and spreads easily. It often paralyzes or cripples victims, and children are most vulnerable.

    By the time Salk tested his vaccine, there were more than 35,000 cases of polio reported in the U.S. every year. The vaccine interrupted the spread of polio, and by the 21st century polio had been eradicated in much of the world.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    epidemic Noun

    outbreak of an infectious disease able to spread rapidly.

    eradicate Verb

    to destroy or remove.

    paralyze Verb

    to prevent movement.

    vulnerable Adjective

    capable of being hurt.