SCOUTING YESTERDAY: Polio crisis reaches South Dakota
This week in South Dakota history: May 17-23
Sturgis elementary school was closed Monday, May 17, 1948, according to the Rapid City Journal, due to six cases of polio diagnosed over the weekend. The high school graduation ceremony was canceled, then moved outdoors and later fully reversed and held as usual in the auditorium.
Poliomyelitis begins with symptoms similar to a cold with sore throats, fever and fatigue, according to the World Health Organization. Some cases lead to stiffness in the neck and limbs with one in two hundred cases leading to paralysis. The cause of transmission was unknown during the 1948 outbreak leading to confusion about how to combat the disease.
Typically children would build immunity to the disease during early childhood with minor symptoms, according to professor John Lienhard. As sanitation conditions improved during the late 19th and early 20th century, the virus was no longer found in drinking water. That led to children contracting the disease at a later age, resulting in more severe symptoms.
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