Much paralytic disease thought to be polio is not caused by polioviruses

“Before the vaccine was in widespread use, many distinct diseases were naively grouped under the umbrella of “polio.” Only after the vaccine was widely accepted was there an effort to distinguish poliovirus from other types of paralytic disease. The following list represents a few that could have been categorized and documented as polio prior to 1958.

* Enteroviruses such as Coxsackie and ECHO
* Undiagnosed congenital syphilis
* Arsenic and DDT toxicity
* Transverse myelitis
* Guillain-Barré syndrome
* Provocation of limb paralysis by intramuscular injections of many types, including a variety of vaccines
* Hand, foot, and mouth disease
* Lead poisoning

These are all conditions that still exist today and that a polio vaccine could not prevent. The face of polio may have changed, but it was mostly due to the power of the pen, advances in diagnostic and life-support technology, removal of certain toxic influences, and advancements in physical therapy.

… The practice among doctors before 1954 was to diagnose all patients who experienced even short-term paralysis (24 hours) with “polio.”In 1955, the year the Salk vaccine was released, the diagnostic criteria became much more stringent. If there was no residual paralysis 60 days after onset, the disease was not considered to be paralytic polio. This change made a huge difference in the documented prevalence of paralytic polio because most people who experience paralysis recover prior to 60 days.

… As a case in point on how much paralytic disease thought to be polio was not at all associated with polioviruses, consider the well documented Michigan epidemic of 1958. This epidemic occurred four years into the Salk vaccine campaign. An in-depth analysis of the diagnosed cases revealed that more than half of them were not poliovirus associated at all. There were several other causes of ‘polio’ besides poliovirus.

‘During an epidemic of poliomyelitis in Michigan in 1958, virological and serologic studies were carried out with specimens from 1,060 patients. Fecal specimens from 869 patients yielded no virus in 401 cases, poliovirus in 292, ECHO (enteric cytopathogenic human orphan) virus in 100, Coxsackie virus in 73, and unidentified virus in 3 cases. Serums from 191 patients from whom no fecal specimens were obtainable showed no antibody changes in 123 cases but did show changes diagnostic for poliovirus in 48, ECHO viruses in 14, and Coxsackie virus in 6.

In a large number of paralytic as well as non-paralytic patients poliovirus was not the cause. Frequency studies showed that there were no obvious clinical differences among infections with Coxsackie, ECHO, and poliomyelitis viruses. Coxsackie and ECHO viruses were responsible for more cases of ‘non-paralytic poliomyelitis’ and ‘aseptic meningitis than was poliovirus itself.'”

— Suzanne Humphries, MD and Roman Bystrianyk


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