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Soldiers On The Polio Front - 'U' Experiments Seek Polio Problem Answers

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Soldiers On The Polio Front

Two technicians in the laboratory of Dr Thomas Francis, jr., chairman of the University epidemiology, department, are shown above inspecting the damage done to the spinal cord of a monkey infected with the infantile paralysis virus. The annual drive for funds in the polio campaign begins Monday and extends through President Roosevelt's birthday Jan. 30.

‘U’ Experiments Seek Polio Problem Answers

Solution of two major problems concerning the cause, development and spread of the virus of infantile paralysis in the human body, is the focal point of laboratory investigation being done by the virus laboratory of the School of Public Health and is the object of the University's program to train men in the study of the disease, according to Dr. Thomas Francis, jr., chairman of the University department of epidemiology.

The Infantile Paralysis drive for funds to relieve the misfortunes caused by the polio virus begins Monday.

The great difficulty lies in demonstrating how the virus gains entrance into the nervous system, Dr. Francis said. Recent developments in research have completely disproved the theory that virus enters the body solely through the nose, proceeds to the olfactory nerve and thence to the brain and spinal cord.

Explains Experiments

“These experiments, Dr. Francis said, "conducted on Indian monkeys did not jibe with the course of the disease in man, and it is now found that the virus is present in the intestinal tract, in feces, in the pharynx and rarely in the nose.

"The idea that the poliomyelitis can be incurred by ingestion of the virus presupposes that it might be present in contaminated food," Dr. Francis continued. “The virus has also been found in the intestines of people who do not develop paralysis but who are considered carriers.”

That the removal of tonsils during an epidemic of infantile paralysis may provoke an attack of the disease was supported by the evidence that five out of six children who had had a tonsillectomy performed during an epidemic developed paralysis while other members of the family, some of whom upon examination proved to have the virus in their Intestines, did not.

Virus In Sewage

That the virus is present In sewage and that flies in infected areas have been shown to carry the virus is definitely established fact, Dr. Francis said, and it is confirmed by the fact that infanttile paralysis is a warm weather disease with major outbreaks disappearing with the advent of cool weather.

The disease has a short season and, although the means of survival of the virus from one season to another is as yet unknown, the probability that it is maintained by carriers who serve as reservoirs of Infection is being actively investigated.

Dr. Francis stressed the importance of studying poliomyelitis in the early stages of its arrival in a community, even before the paralysis cases appear.

According to Dr. Francis, one of the biggest obstacles confronting the doctors engaged in research is to demonstrate that the virus is present without going to the great expense of using monkeys, which at present are difficult to obtain.

"Until an easier way is found, the work is necessarily limited. It is to defray the expenses of such research, as well as the care, cure and prevention of the disease, that the National Infantile Paralysis Foundation conducts a campaign to raise funds each year.”