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April 18, 1959


JAMA. 1959;169(16):1838-1842. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03000330010002

Epidemics of poliomyelitis in Wayne County, Michigan, showed no sharp differences in distribution, either racial or regional, before 1958. In that year, however, the overwhelming majority of cases occurred in the downtown area of Detroit. This was especially true of the paralytic cases, for cases not in this central area were almost all nonparalytic. The paralytic type of disease was most severe among preschoolaged children, and 61.4% of cases occurred in children under 5 years of age. None of the 22 persons who died had received three doses of vaccine. When it became evident, in September, that the incidence had reached epidemic proportions, a vigorous program of vaccination was instituted. More than 600,000 doses of vaccine were administered by the official agencies, and approximately three times that number were administered by private physicians.