Anterior poliomyelitis, mainly called polio (the old name was infantile paralysis) was a scourge for centuries, but was not recognized as a specific disease until comparatively recently. This piece is in honor of the huge immunization program that was begun 56 years ago last week in the United States, that fact kindly pointed out by our good friend ek hornbeck at TheStarsHollowGazette.com a couple of days ago.
Most people do not know anyone who was infected with the paralytic form of this disease these days, partly because they either died or got better, but mostly because of the most successful vaccination program against an infectious disease ever attempted. I have first hand experience with two cases, and will turn 54 on this coming Wednesday. Few people younger than about my age will have known anyone who had it.