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September 15, 1945


JAMA. 1945;129(3):213-214. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860370035013

In 1843 George Colmer1 reported the occurrence in the fall of 1841 of some 10 cases of paralysis in teething children in the parish of West Felecia, La. This report has been regarded as the first record of an epidemic of infantile paralysis. Apparently, a few years earlier, in 1836, Sir Charles Bell, the celebrated anatomist and experimenter, inserted in one of his case reports2 the following note about an epidemic fever with wasting of limbs among children on the island of St. Helena:

A lady, whose husband was the English clergyman at St. Helena, consulted me about her child, who had one leg much wasted in its growth. In conversing about the illness which preceded this affection in her little girl, she mentioned that an epidemic fever spread among all the children in the island about three or five years of age; and her child was ill