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JAMA 100 Years Ago
October 17, 2007


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2007;298(15):1811. doi:10.1001/jama.298.15.1811

There is at present and has been for the past few months an active epidemic of poliomyelitis in New York City which for richness of clinical variation of multiplicity of development has not been seen for many years. In fact, New York City has not had a severe epidemic of this disease and it is only occasionally that any opportunity has been offered the neurologists and pediatrists of the city to observe the beginning symptoms of this comparatively rare disease.

Coming immediately on the top, as it were, of the epidemic of cerebrospinal meningitis with which New York was afflicted last year, certain factors of etiology and relationship have been prominent in the minds of clinicians which have stimulated research in different lines. So far as the etiology of the present epidemic is concerned, nothing has been revealed, unless the negative evidence be regarded in the light of discovery. A large number of lumbar punctures have been made for diagnostic purposes, and up to the present time the results have been negative. From the Rockefeller Institute, where perhaps the greatest number of studies have been made, Dr. Flexner reports that bacterial cultures, both in aërobic and anaërobic media, have given no results; the cerebrospinal fluid is sterile; a further study of the morphology of the fluid reveals no inflammatory products such as are known in meningitis, in tabes, in paresis and in acute inflammatory reactions in the meninges. The evidence from the leucocytic formula in the blood is not much more positive. Studies made at Mt. Sinai Hospital on the blood show only a moderate amount of leucocytosis in a number of the cases. Many bloods are normal in spite of very evident and frank signs of extensive involvement of the spinal cord.