SOCIAL SCIENCE: A Cure for Polio
In the early twentieth century, no other disease caused as much fear and anxiety in the United States as paralytic poliomyelitis. Paralytic poliomyelitis, more commonly known as polio, was a particularly
Line 5 devastating disease because of its effect on children. Many children stricken with polio became permanently confined to wheelchairs or died at a very early age. It was during the summer of 1916 that Americans first realized that polio was a threatening and
10 deadly disease. As a virus, polio seemed to spread most quickly and easily during the summer months. Throughout that fateful summer, New York City experienced a polio epidemic that killed 9,000 people and left 27,000 paralyzed.
15 Even though polio was not a new disease, medical experts around the turn of the century were still uncertain about how to prevent it. While it is difficult to determine polio’s first appearance in history, various accounts of lameness and paralysis suggest that polio
20 can be traced back to early Egypt. It was probably not until 1908, when two Austrian physicians identi- fied the submicroscopic virus, that scientists began to have an accurate understanding of the disease. Until 1908, conditions such as overheating, chilling, and
25 even teething were thought to cause polio’s symptoms. Some scientists and doctors even believed that diseases such as whooping cough and pneumonia were the cause of polio. For many decades, polio research centered on
30 treating symptoms as well as developing a vaccine to prevent polio. There was no known cure for people already infected with polio, so doctors focused on managing the disease’s debilitating effects. Scientists and doctors concentrated on making the polio patient
35 more comfortable and preventing fatalities. During the 1920s, the iron lung became a common device used to assist polio patients in breathing. When using the iron lung, patients would lie in a metal, human-sized tank for long periods of time. Sometimes, polio patients
40 would have to continue this treatment their entire lives. Serum therapy was also attempted. During this type of treatment, polio victims would receive doses of serum extracted from polio-recovered monkeys, humans, and even horses. After nearly 20 years of research and trials,
45 serum therapy was finally abandoned and deemed unsuccessful. In the medical field, other debates occurred regarding the proper treatment of polio patients. Initially, it was thought that diseased limbs should be
50 immobilized and even placed in casts. In addition, polio patients were prescribed complete bed rest. However, other theories suggested that paralyzed arms and legs should be wrapped in hot compresses and exercised regularly to prevent muscular atrophy. This
55 latter approach soon became typical protocol because it seemed to relieve some pain and discomfort. During World War II, the effort to cure and prevent polio in the United States was stalled because medical researchers became more involved with military issues
60 and diseases overseas. However, at the end of the War, as numerous troops returned home and polio epidemics once again increased, attention was turned back to this dreaded disease. Finally, a breakthrough occurred during the early 1950s when a medical researcher named
65 Jonas Salk developed an effective vaccine using the tissue culture method. Salk discovered that injecting elements of the dead polio virus into healthy patients was effective, because vaccinated patients would build antibodies against the dead virus. These acquired
70 antibodies prevented any future infection. Later, another medical researcher named Albert Sabin developed an even easier method of distributing the vaccine. Sabin’s vaccine became known as the oral polio vaccine. This innovation eliminated the use of
75 needles; the vaccine was administered by mouth. Children had no difficulty tolerating the vaccine because it was infiltrated into a sugar cube. By 1955, the Salk vaccination trials were deemed successful. The government quickly established a program to administer
80 vaccines to everyone in the country. By the early 1960s, the oral Sabin vaccine replaced the Salk injections. The Sabin vaccine was a live, attenuated virus that provided longer-lasting effects. By 1964, only 121 cases of polio were reported. This was a dramatic decrease from the
85 58,000 cases reported in 1952. While the scourge of polio is well under control in the United States, it is still a dangerous disease worldwide. Polio is especially a threat in more remote and undeveloped countries. In addition, 500,000 Americans
90 continue to live with the effects of childhood polio infections that began decades ago.
According to the passage, the most significant effects of the polio epidemic in America were on:
The best answer is B. As stated in the passage, polio was a “particularly devastating disease because of its effect on children. Many children stricken with polio became permanently confined to wheelchairs or died at a very early age.” The effects of this disease on children were clearly devastating and far-reaching. Although there were effects on the medical community because its members were desperately searching for a cure, the effects on children were much more extensive and severe. Answer choices A and D do not make sense within the context of the passage.
As it is used in the passage (line 33) the word debilitating most nearly means:
The best answer is G. The passage speaks of “managing the disease’s debilitating effects,” which, according to the passage, included difficulty breathing, paralysis, and potential death. These effects all can best be described as “crippling,” answer choice G. Answer choices F and J do not make sense; they both imply that the effects of the disease brought strength and vitality to patients with polio. Answer choice H is incorrect because “coercing” means “forcing to think or act in some way.” This does not make sense in the context of the passage.
According to the information presented in the passage, what would likely have happened if the iron lung had not been invented?
The best answer is A. According to the passage, the iron lung assisted patients in breathing, and some patients “would have to continue this treatment their entire lives.” This suggests that if the iron lung was not in existence, or if the patients did not continue iron lung therapy, that they may have not have survived for nearly as long with their disease. This best correlates with answer choice A. Answer choices B and C are outside the context of the passage; neither is associated with the iron lung in the passage. Answer choice D refers to the exercising of paralyzed arms and legs, not the iron lung.
According to the passage, why did medical research first focus on the treatment of polio’s symptoms, instead of the disease itself?
The best answer is F. The passage states that “conditions such as overheating, chilling, and even teething were thought to cause polio’s symptoms. Some scientists and doctors even believed that diseases such as whooping cough and pneumonia were the cause of polio.” The passage goes on to say that “For many decades, polio research centered on treating symptoms …” Clearly, scientists and doctors did not have a clear picture as to the cause of polio. This best supports answer choice F.
As it is used in the fifth paragraph, the phrase “became typical protocol” implies that:
The best answer is A. The fifth paragraph gives two treatments that were used in handling polio patients and says that the “latter approach soon became typical protocol because it seemed to relieve some pain and discomfort,” referring to the exercising of the paralyzed limbs of polio patients. This suggests that exercising soon became the most commonly practiced treatment for polio patients, which best correlates with answer choice A. Answer choices B, C, and D do not make sense within the context of the passage.
Based on the passage, the author’s discussion of the polio virus emphasizes the:
The best answer is H. Throughout the passage, the author discusses the difficulties that medical researchers had in finding a cure for polio, and many of the different attempts made at treating the inexplicable disease. This best correlates with answer choice H. Answer choice G may appear to be correct; however, nowhere in the passage does it mention that doctors and researchers were competing to find a cure; all those who were studying polio were working towards the same goal. Likewise, answer choice J may appear to be correct because the medical community did have trouble understanding how to cure polio. However, answer choice J is too broad in stating that the medical community as a whole lacks understanding about curing diseases in general.
The information in the passage primarily suggests that:
The best answer is C. The passage discusses Salk’s breakthrough vaccine and its effectiveness and then goes on to state that “Later, another medical researcher named Albert Sabin developed an even easier method of distributing the vaccine.” This suggests that Sabin had developed an easier method of distributing Salk’s vaccine. This best supports answer choice C. Answer choice A may appear to be correct because Sabin’s vaccine was easier to distribute than Salk’s. However, Salk’s vaccine was indeed successful in curing polio, it merely was not as easy to distribute as Sabin’s.
It can be reasonably inferred that the author would probably consider which of the following to be most similar to the discussion of polio in the passage?
The best answer is G. Cancer is very similar today to what polio was in the early 20th century. Like polio, cancer has many crippling effects and for most types of cancer, there is still no known cure despite the many attempts of medical researchers. Therefore, G is the best answer choice. Answer choices F and H are epidemics like polio, but neither is a strictly medical condition and both can be cured. Answer choice J is outside the context of the passage.
According to the passage, which of the following is NOT true regarding polio?
The best answer is B. As stated in the passage, “Some scientists and doctors even believed that diseases such as whooping cough and pneumonia were the cause of polio.” Therefore, whooping cough and pneumonia were thought to trigger polio, not to be the result of polio. Answer choices A, C, and D are all supported by details found in the passage.
Based on the overall tone of the passage, which of the following statements best summarizes the author’s perspective on the effects of the American polio epidemic of the early 1900s?
The best answer is J. The author states in the last sentence of the passage that “500,000 Americans continue to live with the effects of childhood polio infections that occurred decades ago.” These people still are feeling the consequences of a disease that was prevalent years and years ago, answer choice J. Answer choice F directly contradicts the author’s final statement in the passage. Answer choice G is incorrect because an effective cure has been found for polio; therefore, children are not at risk for infection of the disease. Answer choice H is outside the context of the passage.