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Rotary Club says 'We're This Close'

November 4th, 2011 10:05 am by Staff Report

Submitted by Ellen Myatt

In honor of World Polio Day, widely recognized on Oct. 24, the Rotary Club of Kingsport is presenting a special Polio Plus Program titled "This Close."

This program, to be presented on Nov. 30 at the AmeriCourt hotel on Stone Drive, is part of Rotary's 26-year mission to eradicate the crippling childhood disease. This effort has attracted the attention of Bill and Melinda Gates, who have challenged Rotarians to match a $355 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundaltion with $200 million by June 2012.

"We're 'this close,'" echoes Deborah Adams, president of the Rotary Club of Kingsport. "Many of us remember the threat of polio growing up and how it affected the lives of so many of our families and friends. We want to educate our community about the threat we experienced and what Rotary has done and is doing internationally to eradicate polio throughout the world."

For more information about Rotary's Global Polio Eradication Initiative, spearheaded by the World Health Organization, visit and plan to attend the special program on Nov. 30. Cost is $9.50. Make your reservation by contacting: Tom Todd at

Following is a brief historic timeline:

The history of polio dates back to 1789 in England. Michael Underwood recognized the disability in the lower extremities in young children. This was recognized as poliomyelitis. The first polio outbreak was in the early 19th century. (

1945 - World War II ends, yet large epidemics of polio in the U.S. occur with an average of 20,000 cases a year from 1945 to 1949.

1947 - Jonas Salk accepts a position in Pittsburg at the new medical laboratory funded by the Sarah Mellon Scientific Foundation.

1948 - Salk's lab is one of four awarded research grants for polio virus vaccine.

1952 - There are more than 58,000 cases of polio in the U.S., the most ever. Salk vacinne used to kill the virus, successful with small samples of patients at the Watson Home for Cirppled Children and Polk State School, Pennsylvania.

1953 - Amid continued "polio hysteria," there are 35,000 cases of polio in the U.S.

1954 - Massive field trials of the Salk vaccine are sponsored by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.

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