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August 28, 1943


JAMA. 1943;122(18):1250-1251. doi:10.1001/jama.1943.02840350034008

In 1911 Flexner and Clark1 allowed flies to feed on the spinal cords of monkeys which had died of experimental poliomyelitis. Insects thus contaminated harbored infectious doses of the virus for at least forty-eight hours. This observation was followed by a long series of experiments by other investigators2 in which unsuccessful attempts were made to transmit poliomyelitis to rhesus monkeys by houseflies, biting flies, body lice, head lice, bedbugs, fleas and mosquitoes. In face of these repeated failures, supplemented by the growing belief that poliomyelitis is a "respiratory disease," entering the body only through the olfactory nerves, many clinicians believed that it was "unnecessary" to try to bring insects into the epidemiologic picture.

Twenty years later, however, following a shift of clinical interest to the possibility that human feces and sewage might be the main sources of infection, insect vectors again became of logical interest. Rosenow3 reported