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January 2001

Short news items with a Post-Polio element gleaned from 'here, there and everywhere'. Contributions welcomed. Email Please make it clear that your news item is for inclusion in NewsBites and include any source references.

27th January 2001
Reuniting survivors of the summer plague.

The Savannah Morning News on the Web ( earlier this week carried an extensive article by Mary Landers of the Savannah Morning News. It begins:

When other girls were jitterbugging to swing bands in the 1940s, a teen-age Betty Goff was in a hospital bed recovering from polio.

Hundreds of miles from her Savannah home she spent first seven months then another five in various states of rehab -- under a surgeon's scalpel, then in a body cast, until gradually the staff at Warm Springs Rehabilitation Center had her walking again.

You'd think she'd have little desire to relive those days.

But the 69-year-old Savannahian's memories of her rehabilitation are as warm as the water that bubbles up from the ground in the west Georgia town of Warm Springs. In fact, Goff can't wait to reminisce with other former patients at the center's first-ever reunion in April.

About 200 other polio survivors have also expressed interest in the reunion, according to Martin Harmon, public relations director at Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation. Harmon is putting together a video for the reunion and is encouraging former patients to bring photos and scrap books.

"I think there are a lot of stories we have no earthly idea about now," he said.

Like Goff's.

She recalls her time at Warm Springs not with pain or self-pity. Instead, the first story out of her mouth is a typical teen tale.

It was after she had surgery on her leg in 1948. Goff was 16, an outgoing girl with long auburn curls. She awoke from the anesthesia to find a dozen red roses by her bedside. Her mother was also there and raised an eyebrow at the romantic get-well gesture.

"Who's Bobo?" Goff remembers her mother demanded, mispronouncing the name of the dashing young Cuban patient nicknamed Babo who sent the flowers.

She knew her mom wouldn't approve even though they just sat side-by-side at in their wheelchairs at the movies.

But that's her enduring memory of Warm Springs -- the chance to be a more independent teen-ager than she could at home, one who wore lipstick and gossiped as she shared potted meat and potato chips with her ward-mates at night after lights out. "I remember people crying when they left," Goff said.

Memories of a president.

Frank Cheatham's memories of Warm Springs are a little different. He contracted polio at age 2 and started going to Warm Springs seven years later, in 1933, when his doctor took a job there.

Cheatham dreaded it a little, summer vacations in surgery or in a hot, itchy cast nearly up to his neck and down both legs. But more than anything about those long months he remembers the man who made Warm Springs a mecca for polio patients.

"I don't remember the surgery, I don't remember the unpleasantness of them," said Cheatham, a senior Superior Court judge and mediator. "But I remember in great detail the president of the United States."

That president was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who contracted polio when he was 39. He hid the effects of the disease from the public but not from the patients at Warm Springs.

"The public never knew the extent of his handicaps but he made it obvious to us," Cheatham said. "He had two full-length leg braces and needed assistance to stand up. He did that in our presence at lunch. He was sending a silent message I figured out later. He was saying 'Look at me. I'm president of the U.S. If I can be president with this handicap you can be anything you want to be.' "

Cheatham, who still wears the brace made for his leg more than 60 years ago at Warm Springs, took the message to heart. He grew up to be a lawyer. Cheatham served six years in the Georgia state legislature, and then was appointed a Superior Court Judge in 1972. He retired to senior status in 1993.

As a member of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Warm Springs Memorial Advisory Committee he's planning to attend the reunion.

Cheatham's not sure who'll show up to reminisce with him. It's been a long time.

"We're talking about people who were young 60 years ago," said Cheatham, 77. "I don't know how many are alive. But I'm looking forward to it."

Subsequent sections of the article are sub-headed Polio primer, Polio Reunion and The History of Warm Springs. We include details from the Polio Reunion section here:

Former Warm Springs Foundation patients are invited to a reunion April 11-14 at the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation.

The reunion will include:

  • Kick-off ceremony with Anna Roosevelt, granddaughter of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
  • Educational speakers about post-polio syndrome.
  • Commemorative ceremony with Gov. Roy Barnes at the Little White House in Warm Springs on April 12, the anniversary of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's death.
  • Organ recital in the Roosevelt chapel.
  • Opportunity for polio survivors to get back in the spring-fed Wilson pool.
  • Tours of the new facilities.

If you want to attend:

The cost of the reunion is $150, which includes dinners but not accommodations. For more information, polio survivors and/or their families may contact Carolyn Moreland, director of continuing education at the Roosevelt Institute at (706) 655-5233 or e-mail her at

The full text of the article, of which the above paragraphs are an extract, can be found at

Additional information can be found in our World-Wide Conference and Seminar Diary Card #0021.

See also our Directory entry for Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation

[ Index ]

25th January 2001
Press Release: Bruno Named Director of The International Centre.

We received the following press release on the 24th January 2001:

Bruno Named Director of The International Centre for Post-Polio Education and Research.

Englewood, NJ: January 16, 2001 - Dr Richard L. Bruno, director of The Post-Polio Institute at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, has been named director of the newly created International Centre for Post-Polio Education and Research.

The Centre is being partially funded by a five year grant from The George Ohl, Jr. Infantile Paralysis Foundation. The George Ohl, Jr. Infantile Paralysis Foundation, which has since 1989 provided the only consistent support for post-polio research in the world, has supported all of Dr. Bruno's broadly-based studies on the cause and treatment of Post-Polio Sequelae (PPS) -- the late-onset fatigue, muscle weakness, and pain, problems with breathing, sleeping, swallowing, and cold intolerance that polio survivors are experiencing about forty years after their original both with polio. This research has yielded important findings that provide polio survivors and their doctors with the information they need to understand and treat the debilitating effects of PPS. Through this research, Dr. Bruno has developed a successful protocol for treating PPS that is applied at The Post-Polio Institute to help polio survivors reduce fatigue, weakness and pain, maintain their lifestyles and continue to care for themselves and their families. As a result of its reputation, patients travel from across the U.S. and from as far away as Europe, South America, South Africa, the Middle East and even China to benefit from The Post-Polio Institute's unique multidisciplinary program.

"However, despite 20 years of research, polio survivors frequently report that neither they nor their doctors know about PPS, let alone have the all the facts they need to understand and treat PPS," said Bruno. "Our goal in establishing The Centre is to ensure that world's 20 million polio survivors and their healthcare providers are educated about the cause and treatment of PPS before irreversible neuron damage needlessly destroys polio survivors' ability to function."

The Centre will also become home to the International Post-Polio Task Force, chaired by Dr. Bruno, which is a network of professionals and polio survivors in 12 countries on every continent whose goal is also to disseminate information about the cause and treatment of PPS, as well as to lobby governments and foreign medical associations to recognize PPS and provide disability benefits and medical care to polio survivors.

"We are very excited about the creation of The International Centre for Post-Polio Education and Research," said Dr. Bruno. "We now know so much about the cause and treatment of PPS. Through The Centre we will be able to do more research and, it is our hope, to get PPS information to every polio survivor in the world. For those with PPS, there is no time to waste!"

For more information or to support the work of The International Centre for Post-Polio Education and Research, call 877-POST-POLIO or e-mail PPSENG@AOL.COM.

Articles by Dr. Bruno can be found in our Lincolnshire Post-Polio Library. See the catalogue for:
Bruno, Richard L., Ph.D.

See also our Directory entries for:
The Post-Polio Institute, Englewood (NJ) Hospital and Medical Center Dr. Bruno
The Harvest Center

[ Index ]

23rd January 2001

Polio Virus Eradication: Bid to rid India of polio.

BBC News Online ( carried the following report from the newsroom of the BBC World Service dated Sunday, 21 January, 2001, 22:37 GMT:

An effort to eradicate polio from India by the end of the year has started, with one of the largest immunisation programmes ever undertaken.

An estimated one-hundred-and-fifty million children are reportedly being given polio vaccine in makeshift booths in villages across the country.

American and Japanese volunteers have joined local health workers in the new drive.

India, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Bangladesh are among the last countries where the polio virus is easily spread because of crowded populations and poor sanitation.

However, Indian officials say it is likely India will be rid of the virus by the end of the year - under two hundred cases were reported there last year. The World Health Organisation hopes to eradicate polio completely by 2002.

The full text of the article can be found at

For Polio virus eradication and vaccine related resources see our directory Polio Virus, Vaccine and Eradication

[ Index ]

Obituaries: Polio Pioneers Joseph Melnick and Dorothy M. Horstmann.

In the Washington Post ( on Monday, January 22, 2001, Staff Writer Richard Pearson writes:

Joseph L. Melnick and Dorothy M. Horstmann, two scientists who had important roles in the historic victory over the scourge of polio, died this month. Dr. Melnick, 86, died Jan. 7 in Houston, and Dr. Horstmann, 89, died Jan. 11 in New Haven, Conn. Both had Alzheimer's disease.

Dr. Melnick joined Baylor University's medical school in 1958 as a professor and founding chairman of the school's virology and epidemiology department. He was a professor of molecular virology and microbiology and dean of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate School from 1968 until 1991.

Dr. Horstmann spent most of her adult life at Yale University, where she conducted research in the 1940s and '50s and became a medical professor in 1961. She was named a professor of epidemiology and pediatrics in 1969 and did research in rubella treatment before retiring in 1982.

The two researchers, who had both done groundbreaking research at Yale beginning in the 1940s, wrote a number of technical papers together. In the 1940s, it was work by the Yale Poliomyelitis Study Unit, led by John R. Paul, that showed that the polio virus was a common one that caused paralysis in relatively rare instances -- such as when the virus reached the spinal cord through the bloodstream.

Dr. Horstmann, along with others in the Yale group and scientists at Johns Hopkins University, illustrated how the virus caused paralysis, laying the groundwork for a vaccine. She is credited as the first to demonstrate that the polio virus traveled through the bloodstream.

By the 1950s, polio had become a national nightmare. It seemingly struck without warning in the midst of summer, felling children with fevers and ailments such as an inability to breath, killing some and leaving many more seriously crippled. The media were filled with stories of the disease and of panicked families that sent their children out of America's cities and suburbs to rural surroundings, where it was thought they might be safe.

Hope was on the way.

Jonas Salk, of the University of Pittsburgh, developed the first successful polio vaccine from inactivated poliomyelitis. In 1955, Thomas Francis Jr. of the University of Michigan announced that the Salk vaccine passed its field trials with flying colors and that victory over the disease was in sight.

By summer 1954, 440,000 children in 44 states had received the vaccine, which was proved 80 percent to 90 percent effective in immunizing against the virus.

Francis's announcement brought more than 500 scientists attending the conference to their feet in a storm of applause. More than 150 reporters at the conference spread the word across the world's front pages and in television and radio bulletins.

Within hours of the news, the federal government announced to a clamoring public that six large pharmaceutical companies had been mobilized to produce and market the new vaccine.

The companies were actually already producing the vaccine, in anticipation of a government green light. They announced they would have enough vaccine for 30 million people that year and be able to vaccinate the entire nation before the start of the 1956 polio season.

The Salk vaccine was followed by Albert Sabin's polio vaccine, made with weakened, rather than dead, viruses. The great advantage of the Sabin vaccine was that it was given orally; the Salk vaccine had to be administered by injection. Dr. Horstmann directed a World Health Organization review of field trials, which took place in the Soviet Union, and they demonstrated the new vaccine's safety and effectiveness.

Dr. Horstmann, an opera fan, was born in Spokane, Wash. She was a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at San Francisco Medical School. After her work in polio research, she became a pediatrician before returning to Yale.

She had served as president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Dr. Melnick, who was born in Boston, was a graduate of Wesleyan University. He received a doctorate in physiological chemistry from Yale, where he taught from 1942 until '57. He then served as virus laboratories chief of the National Institutes of Health's biologics standards division before joining Baylor.

Dr. Melnick, who classified and named several virus groups, did early work in environmental virology. He developed methods for the detection and monitoring of viruses in the environment at large and was a leader in WHO programs fighting polio, hepatitis and herpes. He demonstrated that the polio virus was a member of the enterovirus family and conducted research that helped show the rarity of enteroviruses entering the central nervous system. He was one of the first to demonstrate that the polio virus usually invaded the body through the intestines.

He, too, did work with the Sabin vaccine, showing that it caused less damage to the central nervous system than did other vaccines. With famed Baylor heart surgeon Michael E. DeBakey, he researched the role of viruses in heart disease.

Over the years, Dr. Melnick also had edited a number of scientific journals, wrote "Medical Microbiology," a text that has gone through 22 editions, and written more than 1,000 technical papers.

He had served as secretary-general of two international virology congresses and had chaired the virology section of the International Association of Microbiological Societies. He also had served as president of the U.S. Commission on Polio Eradication and was chairman of the viral hepatitis advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The full text of the obituary can be found at

See also
"Joseph Melnick, top polio researcher"
New York Times Service
Published Monday, January 22, 2001, in the Miami Herald
"Dorothy M. Horstmann, Vaccine Pioneer"
The Associated Press

[ Index ]

21st January 2001
Polio Survivors in the News: Archbishop Egan to Be Made Cardinal.

The New York Times ( carried the following Associated Press report on January 21, 2001:

Archbishop Edward Michael Egan, the spiritual leader of New York's 2.4 million Catholics, was named a cardinal on Sunday.

Egan and Jesuit theologian Avery Dulles, a Fordham University professor, were among 37 cardinals named by Pope John Paul II at noon Vatican City time, 6 a.m. in New York. Egan, 68, took over the New York Archdiocese in June, a month after his predecessor, Cardinal John O'Connor, died. It has become traditional for New York's archbishop to be elevated to cardinal.

The full text of the article, of which the above paragraphs are an extract, can be found at
Note that access to the NY Times web site requires you to register but registration is free.

Archbishop Egan contracted polio as a child.
Polio Survivors in the News: Archbishop Will Undergo Leg Operation.
NewsBites 24th June 2000.

[ Index ]

20th January 2001

Polio Virus Eradication: Outbreak reveals polio campaign flaws.

BBC News Online ( carried the following report dated Friday, 19 January, 2001, 13:08 GMT:

An outbreak of the disabling poliovirus in the Caribbean indicates that it may be tougher than first thought to eradicate the virus.

The cases on the island of Hispaniola - which is divided between the independent states of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, provide some of the strongest evidence yet that the weakened viruses used to make a vaccine against polio are capable of causing disease themselves.

Although the presence of polio has been confirmed in fewer than a dozen patients, more are showing the classic symptoms of polio infection, including paralysis.

It has been known for many years that the living viruses used in the most popular oral polio vaccine can survive passing through the body.

In fact, the harsh acid conditions in the gut can mean that only the toughest viruses pass through and are carried in the faeces.

These can replicate successfully in watercourses and sewers, and over time, can regain a virulence that their weakened predecessors lacked.

They now appear to be able to not only infect humans and cause illness, but pass from human to human.

First acknowledged outbreak.

There have been several examples of cases of polio illness thought to have been caused by vaccine viruses, particularly among those with suppressed immune systems.

However, the Hispaniola incident appears to be the first where there has been an oubreak, rather than individual isolated cases.

The island states are thought to be most at risk because vaccination rates were low, and as there has been no wild poliovirus found for some time, natural immunity was also low.

Dr Ciro de Qudros, director of the Division of Vaccines and Immunisation at the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), said the outbreak was now under control.

But he added: "It is a powerful reminder that even polio-free areas need to maintain high coverage with polio vaccine until polio eradication has been achieved."

Others, however, are saying this is potential hurdle for the World Health Organisation's hopes of worldwide polio eradication by 2005.

Its experts had always hoped that while the occasional isolated case of polio caused by the oral poliovaccine viruses might occur, outbreaks were unlikely even in a community with low vaccination rates.

Funding further vaccination programmes using non-live viruses may prove too expensive for the WHO.

Roland Sutter, from the US Centers of Disease Control (CDC), told Nature magazine: "Clearly this is raising a red flag - whether it is a small one or a big one remains to be seen."

The full text of the article can be found at

See also
"Polio returns to threaten world plan for eradication"
Tim Radford, science editor
The Guardian
Friday January 19, 2001

For Polio virus eradication and vaccine related resources see our directory Polio Virus, Vaccine and Eradication

[ Index ]

Film Review: "A Fight To The Finish: Stories Of Polio"

The following review by Jonathan Foreman appeared in ( on Friday, January 19, 2001:

HISTORIAN Geoffrey C. Ward and former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee are among the interviewees in this moving but surprisingly upbeat documentary about polio, the terrifying illness that crippled or killed so many children in a series of epidemics beginning in 1916.

You discover, among other things, that modern hygiene actually assisted the spread of the disease, and that as late as the early '60s every family in America dreaded the onset of the summer "polio season" when child after child came home from public parks and pools with pains that turned rapidly into paralysis.

It was President Franklin D. Roosevelt - who lost the use of his legs to the disease he called "the crippler" - who launched the March of Dimes campaign that funded the research that culminated in discovery of the Salk and Sabin vaccines, one of the great human triumphs of the 20th century.

This may not be the most beautiful or technically perfect documentary film, but it's gripping and often heartrending stuff, especially the footage of children encased in "iron lung" respirators.

And it ends on a joyful note, with the eradication of the disease from the West, and the efforts of Rotary and other organizations to do the same thing in places like India.

Running time: 83 minutes. Not rated, documentary. At Pioneer Theater, Avenue A.

The full text of the review can be found at

See also
"'A Fight to the Finish: Stories of Polio': Recalling the Eradication of a 20th-Century Scourge
By A. O. Scott
Note that access to the NY Times web site requires you to register but registration is free.

Notification of the above news items was received via NewsIndex

[ Index ]

27th January 2001
Reuniting survivors of the summer plague.
25th January 2001
Press Release: Bruno Named Director of The International Centre.
23rd January 2001
Item 1
Polio Virus Eradication: Bid to rid India of polio.
Item 2
Obituaries: Polio Pioneers Joseph Melnick and Dorothy M. Horstmann.
21st January 2001
Polio Survivors in the News: Archbishop Egan to Be Made Cardinal.
20th January 2001
Item 1
Polio Virus Eradication: Outbreak reveals polio campaign flaws.
Item 2
Film Review: "A Fight To The Finish: Stories Of Polio"
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