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August 13, 1938


JAMA. 1938;111(7):643. doi:10.1001/jama.1938.02790330063018

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To the Editor:—  The simple diagnostic term "poliomyelitis" (meningo-encephalopoliomyelitis) fails to portray different forms of a disease notable for the extreme variability of its clinical appearance. Recently the modifying terms "abortive," "nonparalytic," "preparalytic" and "paralytic" have been employed to designate the stage or severity of the disease. These terms are also vague and confusing. A diagnosis of "abortive" poliomyelitis is presumptive, without means of confirmation. Even if the virus is found in the nasopharynx or rectal washings in such "abortive" cases, it is still only an assumption that the virus was the causative agent of the indefinite illness, since healthy carriers have been described. The term "preparalytic" is objectionable because it conveys the idea that paralysis would inevitably ensue. Statistical studies have disclosed that such an outcome is not the rule. To avoid the use of "preparalytic," the term "nonparalytic" has been proposed. The term "nonparalytic" cannot be applied to

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