Poliovirus and Other Picornaviruses

  • Milton W. TaylorEmail author


Poliovirus is an epidemic virus of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Although there were infections of polio in ancient times, the improvement in sanitation in the twentieth century led to epidemic outbreaks, particularly in western Europe and the U.S. Panic often accompanied outbreaks, particularly in the U.S., with demands for strict quarantine, prohibition of movement of people, and closing of places of recreation. Public interest in eradication of the virus led to fund-raising with the “March of Dimes,” whose aim was to alleviate suffering and develop a vaccine. The fact that President Roosevelt was a victim of polio helped with the campaign. The treatment of patients with polio was controversial; Sister Kenny claimed that exercise was important, while other physicians recommended rest. Patients were often kept in iron lungs for a long time. In 1955 the USPHS licensed an inactive virus vaccine, the Salk vaccine, which was used in mass vaccination of children in the U.S. Albert Sabin and Hilary Koprowski independently developed two attenuated viral vaccines, which were taken orally and replaced the Salk vaccine in the 1960s. Poliovirus belongs to the family of viruses known as picornavirus; this includes foot and mouth disease, which is of great economic importance and outbreaks of which have plagued the British cattle industry, and rhinoviruses—the common cold virus.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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