Sunday, March 30, 2014

Majority Professionals Do Not Believe Autism Increase Due to Better Diagnosis

Open Journal of PsychiatryVol.3 No.2A(2013), Article ID:30182,7 pagesDOI:10.4236/ojpsych.2013.32A010
Professional opinion on the question of changes in autism incidence
M. Catherine DeSoto*, Robert T. Hitlan

Copyright © 2013 M. Catherine DeSoto, Robert T. Hitlan. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Received 8 January 2013; revised 13 February 2013; accepted 21 February 2013
Keywords: Counselor Attitudes; Professional Opinion; ASD; Autism Prevalence; Autism
The question of whether the prevalence increase observed in autism due to an actual increase in the incidence of autism is a matter of concern to professional psychologists, and has been a matter of debate. As professionals trained in diagnosis and research methodology, the opinions of psychologists are of interest. We report the results of what we believe to be the first survey of professional opinion on the topic. Results suggest that among professional psychologists with a terminal degree (n = 88), the majority believe that diagnostic changes can not fully account for the observed increase; 72% reported either the true rate may have, or definitely has, increased. In this sample, the professionals who are certain about the occurrence of a real increase (n=20) are five times as many as those who do not think the increase has occurred (n=4). These results are not meant to document whether or not an increase has or has not occurred, but instead speak to the question of consensus opinion among professional psychologists. What experts believe is an empirical question, and statements about what experts believe should be empirically based.
We have reported the results of a survey of professional opinion on the topic of increased autism prevalence. The results indicate that the majority of professionals do not believe that the increase in reported autism is fully explainable by changes in diagnostic practice. Twenty-eight percent of professionals surveyed thought that diagnostic changes were accounting for all of the increase in diagnoses, while 60% thought this did not fully explain the observed increase.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

India’s Polio Free Status a Cruel Joke

India's polio-free status a cruel joke

Posted on: 26 Mar, 2014


 The definition of polio has been changed repeatedly since the programme was launched, thus automatically leading to a drastic fall in the number of cases
Jagannath Chatterjee Polio, traditionally synonymous with paralysis and disability, has been given a new name in India. It is now known as NPAFP or non polio acute flaccid paralysis. This and the fact that cases of polio caused by the oral polio vaccine (OPV) are not being reflected as polio have ensured that India is now declared “polio free” and is being showcased as a success story of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative that was launched in 1988 by the World Health Assembly.

Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980 after a tumultuous period of denial of vaccine deaths and other controversies. According to medical researcher William Muraskin, who teaches urban epidemics at Queens College's (City University of New York) urban history and health department, the experts involved in this debatable exercise were looking for another opportunity to flaunt their skills. When they chose polio many eyebrows were raised. Polio was not on the priority radar of the countries where this exercise was to be launched. These developing nations were struggling to provide basic health needs. India, for example, is incapable of providing clean water, sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition for a majority of its population even 66 years after Independence

Misguided approach
Furthermore, OPV was chosen to be the only weapon to eradicate polio. T Jacob John, professor emeritus at CMC Vellore, pointed out that this vaccine, consisting of live viruses, is notorious for causing vaccine-induced polio. Because those vaccinated tend to shed the virus in their stool, it can mutate into a virulent form, causing paralytic polio in others, even leading to polio epidemics. When this phenomenon was noticed and reported by Indian doctors they were asked to increase the number of doses given to children!

Activist and physician Anant Phadke and C Sathyamala, epidemiologist who has been working on community health projects in different parts of the country for over 20 years, argued that it is not possible to eradicate polio, a disease primarily of poor sanitation and nutrition, with a vaccine. Polio-like paralysis can also be caused by other factors. DDT and other pesticides, exposure to lead and arsenic, other neurotoxins, injections, and vaccinations can trigger paralysis. Thus a holistic approach was needed to tackle the disease.

Medical textbooks reveal that exposure to polio viruses rarely results in paralysis. More than 95 per cent of those exposed will show no symptoms at all. Of the rest, many will exhibit symptoms resembling a common cold, a few will suffer temporary lameness, and less than 1 per cent will exhibit permanent paralysis. Exposure to the polio virus is actually the best immunity against viral polio. It offers permanent immunity to more than 99 per cent exposed to it. According to Yash Paul, consultant paediatrician in Jaipur, and other doctors who have spoken on the issue, why an internal virus infects the spine to cause paralysis is yet to be explained and the general conclusion is that those who become permanently paralysed may have some inherent susceptibility that should be investigated.

Phadke pointed out that smallpox and polio eradication are two entirely different things. Polio viruses can infect children without causing any external symptoms and thus remain in circulation. He alleged that it was for the benefit of the developed nations, who could stop their vaccination programmes once the wild polio virus was eradicated worldwide, and for the manufacturers, who were promoting the programme because the OPV was discontinued in the developed countries due to its risks, that the polio eradication strategy was launched. This eradication effort, costing around Rs 14,000 crore or more, has broken the back of the Indian health system besides leaving the entire ground-based health staff exhausted and demoralised.

OPV: how harmful? 
The National Polio Surveillance Project data show that the polio eradication programme has increased paralysis among children—from 1,005 cases yearly in 1996 to 60,992 cases in 2012, most now being classified as NPAFP instead of polio. The government does not reveal how many of these cases are due to the vaccine. It was observed in 2005 that, against 66 cases of polio caused by the wild polio virus that year, 1,645 were caused by the vaccine. As the number of polio doses given to every child has increased exponentially over the years, the number of children affected by the vaccine has climbed new heights. Data reveals that those vaccinated are 6.26 times more likely to be paralysed. Doctors investigating the affected children have expressed anguish over how these children have been ignored by the government of India and have been left to fend for themselves. Deaths from the vaccine have also been reported.

Many mutated virus strains are running loose in India. In Japan, after three months of use, 16 extremely virulent strains of the vaccine viruses and 78 strains in total were found in sewage and in its rivers. India has been using the vaccine since 1978, intensively since 1997, and one cannot even imagine how many virulent strains could be circulating in this country that is devoid of basic sewerage disposal and sanitation facilities.

Why are more than 60,000 children in India becoming paralysed every year? Neetu Vashisht, paediatrician at Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya, assciated with Maulana Azad Medical College, in Delhi has analysed that the cases of NPAFP in India are directly proportionate to the number of doses of OPV given, implying a relationship. Taking into consideration the normal NPAFP rate, it has been deduced that in 2011 alone, India has suffered 47,500 extra cases of paralysis. Studies have shown that death rates in children with NPAFP are twice as high as the death rate among children with polio paralysis. They have also pointed out that polio and NPAFP are clinically indistinguishable. A version of the vaccine has been illegally tested on Indian children during the eradication programme and doctors have observed and reported higher rates of paralysis due to this vaccine.

In Brazil, a study has implicated this vaccine in cases of Guillain Barré Syndrome (GBS), transverse myelitis, and facial palsy. Thus the claim of the government that these cases of paralysis have no relation to the vaccine merits extensive investigation. Medical scientists have privately expressed that the epidemics of encephalitis in children in areas where the OPV has been used excessively must also be investigated. In the USA all cases of polio are now attributed to the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) which is considered to be safer! The vaccine also causes GBS, a totally debilitating kind of paralysis.

In April 2004 a memorandum was submitted to the WHO, UNICEF and the Government of India by Debabar Bannerjee, professor emeritus at Centre of Social Health and Medicine at Jawaharlal Nehru University, and other eminent doctors pointing out that the WHO inflated 32,419 cases of polio, a maximum of 20 per cent of which were probably caused by the wild polio virus, to 350,000 to justify the programme. The definition of polio has been changed repeatedly since the programme was launched, thus automatically leading to a drastic fall in the number of cases. A significant number of children declared polio-affected by the polio virus were sufficiently vaccinated, and that children were being rendered paralytic directly due to the vaccine.

The memorandum also pointed out that polio eradication was not possible in India, as the vaccine viruses had mutated into virulent strains and were circulating. In August 2006, the Indian Medical Association reiterated the above and called for identifying the unfortunate victims and compensating them.

Later, throwing all caution to the winds, children have been given an unprecedented 30 to 50 doses of the vaccine and even those who should be medically exempt are being vaccinated. Dr Jacob Puliyel, head of paediatrics department at St Stephens Hospital in Delhi, reveals that a synthetic version of the polio virus with a formula called ‘CHNOPS’ makes a mockery of the eradication effort as polio can now be spread accidentally or intentionally by this virus.

Virulent strains emerge
The OPV targets only three of the many enteroviruses that are capable of causing polio. In such a scenario the other viruses often take over by becoming more virulent. Such cases are now being observed in the USA where the enterovirus 68 is now suspected to be causing polio. The enterovirus 71 has also been observed to cause polio in that country. This phenomenon may soon become global as viruses change roles in response to misguided efforts that seek to eliminate them.

Pushpa Bhargava, founder director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, points out that polio was already on the decline in India even before the eradication effort began. Polio was concentrated in a few pockets of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which accounted for 96 per cent of the cases reported. Improving sanitation and nutrition in these areas, along with routine rounds of the relatively safer IPV, would have drastically reduced polio without resorting to the chicanery that has resulted in an unprecedented toll of disability in children in all parts of the country.

Hidden in the packet inserts of the OPV is an ominous statement saying that the vaccine has not been tested for causing cancer or infertility. The presence of untested and probably carcinogenic monkey viruses, and phenol and polysorbate 80, both of which are endocrine disruptors, in the vaccine raises concerns. It is also known that the vaccine virus strains can lie latent in the body and cause polio decades after administration.

India is now preparing to permanently launch the injectable IPV all over the country, which will require money and trained manpower at a scale that it currently does not have, to counter the vaccine viruses in circulation. This vaccine has its own share of associated risks besides administration errors that can itself cause paralysis in children. The wild polio viruses, which actually conferred immunity to children, are now no longer widely prevalent, leaving future children exposed to unexpected epidemics. The so called benefits of polio eradication have eluded this indebted country and its children face an uncertain future. It is important that lessons from this misadventure be learnt to oppose future assaults on the children of our country, particularly as India gears up for the measles eradication campaign.

Case of criminal liability
It is very important to find out exactly who have benefitted from the programme and take heed of calls by ethical doctors like Phadke that those guilty must be identified and punished. He says, “It is necessary that all these children who have lost their limbs be fully rehabilitated, and their parents adequately compensated. Criminal liability should be ascertained for those officials who have suppressed this information of breakup of follow-up of AFP cases, and those officials and policymakers who are responsible for continuing this policy of Polio Eradication Initiative.”

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Studies: Vaccinations Don't Work

Vaccinations Don't Work:
Gilchrist, A, "To Vaccinate is Not Always to Immunize", Med J Aust, May 6, 1991, 154(9):638. [Vaccination does not always mean (or =) immunization.]
Daniel, J C, "The Polio Paradox, One of the Two Polio Vaccines Has Been Largely Abandoned in the US; The other is the Leading Cause of the Disease", Science, April 1986, p 37-39.... See More
More on the horrors of vaccines:
Pathel, JC, et al, "Tetanus Following Vaccination Against Small-pox", J Pediatr, Jul 1960; 27:251-263. [Now you need a tetanus vaccination!]
Favez, G, "Tuberculous Superinfection Following a Smallpox Re-Vaccination", Praxis, July 21, 1960; 49:698-699. [Super means large/big/great!]
Bonifacio, A et al, "Traffic ... See MoreAccidents as an expression of "Iatrogenic damage", Minerva Med, Feb 24, 1971, 62:735-740. [But officer I was just vaccinated!]
Baker, J et al, "Accidental Vaccinia: Primary Inoculation of a Scrotum", Clin Pediatr (Phila), Apr 1972, 11:244-245. [Ooops, the needle slipped.]
Edwards, K, "Danger of Sunburn Following Vaccination", Papua New Guinea Med J, Dec 1977, 20(4):203. [Are vaccines phototoxic?]
Stroder, J, "Incorrect Therapy in Children", Folia Clin Int (Barc), Feb 1966, 16:82-90. [Agreed.]
Wehrle PF, "Injury associated with the use of vaccines," Clin Ther 1985;7(3):282-284. [Dah!]
Alberts ME, "When and where will it stop", Iowa Med 1986 Sep; 76(9):424. [When!]
Breiman RF, Zanca JA, "Of floors and ceilings -- defining, assuring, and communicating vaccine safety", Am J Public Health 1997 Dec;87(12):1919-1920. [What is in between floors and ceilings?]
Stewart, AM, et al, "Aetiology of Childhood Leukaemia", Lancet, 16 Oct, 1965, 2:789-790.
Nelson, ST, "John Hutchinson On Vaccination Syphilis (Hutchinson, J)", Arch Derm, (Chic), May 1969, 99:529-535. [Vaccinations and STDs!]
Mather, C, "Cotton Mather Anguishes Over the Consequences of His Son's Inoculation Against Smallpox", Pediatrics, May 1974; 53:756. [Is it for or against?]
Thoman M, "The Toxic Shot Syndrome", Vet Hum Toxicol, Apr 1986, 28(2):163-166. [Animals are not exempt from vaccination damage either!]
Johnson, RH, et al, "Nosocomial Vaccinia Infection", West J Med, Oct 1976, 125(4):266-270. [Nosocomial means a disease acquired in a doctor's office or hospital.]
Heed, JR, "Human Immunization With Rabies Vaccine in Suckling Mice Brain," Salud Publica, May-Jun 1974, 16(3): 469-480. [Have you had your suckling mice brains today?]
Tesovic, G et al, "Aseptic Meningitis after Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccine", Lancet, Jun 12, 1993, 341(8859):1541. [AM has same symptoms as poliomyelitis!]
Buddle, BM et al, "Contagious Ecthyma Virus-Vaccination Failures", Am J Vet Research, Feb 1984, 45(2):263-266.
Freter, R et al, "Oral Immunization And Production of Coproantibody in Human Volunteers", J Immunol, Dec 1963, 91:724-729. [Guess what copro- means .... Feces.]
NA, "Vaccination, For and Against", 1964, Belg T Geneesk, 20:125-130. [Is it for or against?]
Sahadevan, MG et al, "Post-vaccinal Myelitis", J Indian Med Ass, Feb 16, 1966, 46:205-206. [Did I mention myelitis?]
Castan, P et al, "Coma Revealing an acute Leukosis in a child, 15 days after an Oral Anti-poliomyelitis Vaccination," Acta Neurol Bekg, May 1965, 65:349-367. [Coma from vaccines!]
Stickl, H, et al, "Purulent [pus] meningitides Following Smallpox Vaccination. On the Problem of Post- Vaccinal Decrease of Resistance", Deutsch Med Wschr, Jul 22, 1966, 91:1307-1310. [Vaccines are the injection of viruses cultured from pus ... ]
Haas, R, et al, "Studies on the Occurrence of Viremia Following Oral Poliomyelitis Vaccination with Sabin Type I Strain LSC2ab", Deutsch Med Wschr, Mar 4, 1968, 91:385-389. [Vaccines contains viruses!]
Converse, J L, et al, "Control of Tissue Reactions in monkeys vaccinated with Viable Coccidioides immitis by prevaccination with killed Coccidioides immitis", J Bact, Sept 1965, 90:783-788.
Motelunas, LI et al, "The Potential Epidemiological Hazard of Parental Transmission of Epidemic Hepatitis as the Result of Vaccination," Zh Mikrobiol, Nov 1965, 42:105-108. [Hazard Plus!]
Krudusz, J, "Effect of Vaccinotherapy on the Sedimentation Rate and On the Hematocrit", Klin Oczna, 1967, 37:191-195. [ESR is indication of health!]
Pop, A, "Production of Laboratory Animals for the Production of Serums and Vaccines," Arch Roum Path Exp Mocrobiol, 1967, 23:423-430. [Animal research for vaccine production!]
Espmark, A, "The Composition of Vaccines With Reference to Potentially Injurious Allergens", Lakartidningen, Nov 3, 1965, 62:3662-3667. [Vaccines are Potentially Injurious Allergens!]
DeRenzi, S, et al, "Damage Caused by Vaccine Therapy and Serotherapy", Clin Ter, Sept 30, 1966, 38:497-500. [Damage Caused by Vaccines!]
Lewis, J, "Iatrogenic Malaria," New Zeal Med J, Feb 1970, 71:88-89. [Malaria caused by the doctor!]
Prakken, JR, "Syphilization", Nederl T Geneesk, Jun 13, 1970, 114:1019-1023. [Syphilis!]
Damert, C et al, "Hygenical and Bacteriological Inspection of the Execution of Vaccination," Z Gesamite Hyg, Jul 1974, 20(7):439-442. [Hygiene means clean ... vaccine hygiene = oxymoron!]
Na, "Sibling Accidentally Vaccinates other Following Inoculation", Can Med Assoc J, Aug 4, 1973, 109:237. [I hate it when they let siblings play with needles.]
Opitz, B et al, "Prevention of Iatrogenic Infections Following Vaccination", Dtsch Gesundheltsw, Jun 15, 1972, 27:1131-1136. [Disease caused by the doctor!]
Raff, MJ, "Progressive Vaccinia (Vaccinia Gangrenosum)", J Ky Med Assoc, Feb 1973, 71:92-95.
Hanissian, AS et al, "Vasculitis and Myositis Secondary to Rubella Vaccination", Arch Neurol, Mar 1973, 28:202-204. [Did I mention vasculitis and myositis?]
Cho, CT, et al, "Panencephalitis Following Measles Vaccination", JAMA, May 28, 1973, 224:1299. [The measles vaccination is given to prevent pancephalitis; panencephalitis is a demyelination disease, too.]
Rubin, R H, et al, "Adverse Reactions to Duck Embryo Rabies Vaccine. Range and Incidence," Ann Intern Med, May 1973, 78:643-649. [Adversion to duck embryos, yuck!]
Gunderman, JR, "Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Occurrence Following Combined Mumps-Rubella Vaccine", Am J Disorder Child, Jun 1973, 125:834-835. [GBS is paralysis!]
Hale, MS et al, "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Associated With Rubella Immunization", Am J Phys Med, Aug 1973, 52:189-194. [Did I mention Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?]
Provost, A et al, "Inopportune Cattle Mucosal Diseases Associated With Rinderpest Vaccine", Bull Epizoot Afr, Dec 1972, 20:265-267. [Those ... inopportune infections.]
Budal, J, "Hazards of Prophylactic Vaccination," Orv Hetil, Sept 10, 1972, 113:2237-2240. [or "Prophylactic" Hazards!]
Levenbuk, IS, et al, "A Morphological Study of the Harmlessness of Live Dysentery Vaccines From Streptomycin Dependent Mutants of Sh. Flexnert", ZH Mikrobiol Epidemiol Immunobiol, Feb 1972, 49:18-22. [Listed under Vaccinations Adverse Reactions.]
Arnold, H, "Our Vaccination Service is Sick", Oeff Egsundheitswes, Feb 1974, 36:133-134. [Agree!]
Spless, H, "Sterility of Vaccination Guns", Dtsch Med Wochenschr, Jun 27, 1975, 100(26):1445-1446. [Make sure the gun is sterile, because what is inside it isn't.]
Redey, B, "Self-Experiments with the Ingestion of Various Bacteria", Acta Microbiol Acad Sci Hung, 1974, 21(1-2):45-62. [Beyond the call of duty for some scientists.]
Webster, AC, "The Adverse Effect of Environment on the Response to Distemper Vaccination", Aust Vet J, Oct 1975, 51(10): 488-490. ["The terrain is everything" ... Pasteur's famous last words.]
NA, "Vaccines Made From House-Dust Mites", Drug Ther Bull, Apr 23, 1976, 14(9):35-36. [Sic!]
Levaditi, JC et al, "Local Tolerance of Vaccines Adsorbed on Immuno-Stimulating Substances", Sem Hop Ther, Feb 1975, 51(2):117-118. [Tolerance and sensitization, not immunity and immunization.]
Miller, Ta, "The Possibilities for Application of the Canine Hookworm Vaccine Technology to the Prevention and Control of Hookworm Infection and Disease in Man", In: Nuclear Techniques in Helminthology Research, Vienna, International Atomic Energy Agency, 1973. [That could be great to control human heart worms, too. We could also switch from going to medical doctors to vets.]
Borsche, A, "What are the Hazards of Vaccinations in Childhood?" ZFA, May 10, 1976,
Vaccine Citations Linking the Vaccine to the "prevented" Disease:

Nkowane, et al, "Vaccine-Associated Paralytic Poliomyelitis, US 1973 through 1984, JAMA, 1987, Vol 257:1335-1340.
Quast, et al, "Vaccine Induced Mumps-like Diseases", nd, Int Symp on Immun, Development Bio Stand, Vol 43, p269-272.
Green, C et al, "A Case of Hepatitis Related to Etretinate Therapy and Hepatitis B Vaccine", Dermatologica, 1991, 182(2):119-120.... See More
Shasby, DM, et al, "Epidemic Measles in Highly Vaccinated Population", NEJM, Mar 1977, 296(11): 585-589.
Tesovic, G et al, "Aseptic Meningitis after Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccine", Lancet, Jun 12, 1993, 341(8859):1541.
Johnson, RH, et al, "Nosocomial Vaccinia Infection", West J Med, Oct 1976, 125(4):266-270.
Malengreau, M, "Reappearance of Post-Vaccination Infection of Measles, Rubella, and Mumps. Should Adolescents be re-vaccinated?" Pedaitric, 1992;47(9):597-601 (25 ref)
Basa, SN, "Paralytic Poliomyelitis Following Inoculation With Combined DTP Prophylactic. A review of Sixteen cases with Special Reference to Immunization Schedules in Infancy", J Indian Med Assoc, Feb 1, 1973, 60:97-99.
Landrigan, PJ et al, "Measles in Previously Vaccinated Children in Illinois", Ill Med J, Arp 1974, 141:367-372.
NA, "Vaccine-Associated Poliomyelitis", Med J Aust, Oct 1973, 2:795-796.
Vaccination and Death

Na, "DPT Vaccination and Sudden Infant Death - Tennessee, US Dept HEW, MMWR Report, Mar 23, 1979, vol 28(11): 132.
Arevalo, "Vaccinia Necrosum. Report on a Fatal Case", Bol Ofoc Sanit Panamer, Aug 1967, 63:106-110.
Connolly, J H, Dick, G W, Field, CM, "A Case of Fatal Progressive Vaccinia", Brit Med Jour, 12 May 1962; 5288:1315-1317.... See More
Aragona, F, "Fatal Acute Adrenal Insufficiency Caused by Bilateral Apoplexy of the Adrenal Glands (WFS) following Anti-poliomyelitis Vaccination", Minerva Medicolegale, Aug 1960; 80:167-173.
Moblus, G et al, "Pathological-Anatomical Findings in Cases of Death Following Poliomyelitis and DPT Vaccination", Dtsch Gesundheitsw, Jul 20, 1972, 27:1382-1386.
NA, "Immunizations and Cot Deaths", Lancet, Sept 25, 1982, np.
Goetzeler, A, "Fatal Encephalitis after Poliomyelitis Vaccination", 22 Jun 1961, Muenchen Med Wschr, 102:1419-1422.
Fulginiti, V, "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Diphtheria-Tetanus Toxoid-Pertussis Vaccination and Visits to the Doctor: Chance Association or Cause and Effect?", Pediatr Infect Disorder, Jan-Feb 1983, 2(1): 7-11.
Baraff, LJ, et al, "Possible Temporal Association Between Diphtheria-tetanus toxoid-Pertussis Vaccination and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome", Pediatr Infect Disorder, Jan-Feb 1983, 2(1): 5-6.
Reynolds, E, "Fatal Outcome of a Case of Eczema Vaccinatum", Lancet, 24 Sept 1960, 2:684-686.
Apostolov. et al, "Death of an Infant in Hyperthermia After Vaccination", J Clin Path, Mar 1961, 14:196-197.
Bouvier-Colle, MH, "Sex-Specific Differences in Mortality After High-Titre Measles Vaccination", Rev Epidemiol Sante Publique, 1995; 43(1): 97.
Stewart GT, "Deaths of infants after triple vaccine.", Lancet 1979 Aug 18;2(8138):354-355.
Flahault A, "Sudden infant death syndrome and diphtheria/tetanus toxoid/pertussis/poliomyelitis immunisation.", Lancet 1988 Mar 12;1(8585):582-583.
Larbre, F et al, "Fatal Acute Myocarditis After Smallpox Vaccination", Pediatrie, Apr-May 1966, 21:345-350.
Mortimer EA Jr, "DTP and SIDS: when data differ", Am J Public Health 1987 Aug; 77(8):925-926.
Vaccines and Metabolism Citations:

Deutsch J, " [Temperature changes after triple-immunization in infant age]," Padiatr Grenzgeb 1976;15(1):3-6. [Article in German]
NA, "[Temperature changes after triple immunization in childhood]," Padiatr Grenzgeb 1976;15(1):7-10. [Article in German]
[Considering that the thyroid controls our Basal Metabolism, it would appear that vaccines altered (depressed) thyroid activity.]
Leaked emails revealed Merck knew Vioxx was dangerous and still sold it. How could they be trusted with Gardasil vaccine which is now killing people as well. I just hope 30,000 people dont have to die from Gardasil as they did with Vioxx before Gardasil is pulled.
In memory of those who have passed away from the side effects of gardasil vaccines. Here facts and stories directly from families effected:
Regarding Gardasil vaccine:
Supporting evidence that HPV "causes" cervical cancer has not been obtained, contrary to popular belief. The truth is that they FIND HPV in most cases of cervical cancer but that is only because HPV it is so common. The FDA has known for a long time that there is not a proven cause-effect relationship.

HiFi DNA Tech, ... See Morea company that manufacturers a DNA testing device that can detect the presence of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is petitioning the FDA (and suing the FDA) to get it to reclassify its medical device as a “Class II” device based on the revelation that the FDA has already adopted the position that HPV infections do not directly cause cervical cancer.

Vaccines Are Linked to Leukemias and Lymphomas:

Bichel, "Post-vaccinial Lymphadenitis Developing into Hodgkin's Disease", Acta Med Scand, 1976, Vol 199, p523-525.
Stewart, AM, et al, "Aetiology of Childhood Leukaemia", Lancet, 16 Oct, 1965, 2:789-790. [Listed under Vaccine Adverse Reactions.]
Glathe, H et al, "Evidence of Tumorigenic Activity of Candidate Cell Substrate in Vaccine Production by the Use of Anti-Lymphocyte Serum", Development Biol Std, 1977, 34:145-148.... See More
Bolognesi, DP, "Potential Leukemia Virus Subunit Vaccines: Discussion", Can Research, Feb 1976, 36(2 pt 2):655-656.
Colon, VF, et al, "Vaccinia Necrosum as a Clue to Lymphatic Lymphoma", Geriatrics, Dec 1968, 23:81-82.
Park-Dincsoy, H et al, "Lymphoid Depletion in a case of Vaccinia Gangrenosa", Laval Med, Jan 1968, 39:24-26.
Hugoson, G et al, "The Occurrence of Bovine Leukosis Following the Introduction of Babesiosis Vaccination", Bibl Haemat, 1968, 30:157-161.
Hartstock, , ""Post-vaccinial Lymphadenitis: Hyperplasia of Lymphoid Tissue That Simulates Malignant Lymphomas", Apr 1968, Cancer, 21(4):632-649.
Allerberger, F, "An Outbreak of Suppurative Lymphadenitis Connected with BCG Vaccination in Austria- 1990/1991," Am Rev Respir Disorder, Aug 1991, 144(2) 469.
Omokoku B, Castells S, "Post-DPT inoculation cervical lymphadenitis in children." N Y State J Med 1981 Oct;81(11):1667-1668.

Vaccinations Cause Diabetes:

Sinaniotis, et al, "Diabetes Mellitus after Mumps Vaccination", Arc Dis Child, 1975, 50:749.66
Polster, H, "Diabetes insipidus after Smallpox vaccination", Z Aerztl Fortbild (Jena), 1 Apr 1966, 60:429-432.
Patan, "Postvaccinal Severe Diabetes Mellitus", Ter Arkh, Jul 1968, 40:117-118.... See More
Classen, JB, MD, "The Timing of Immunization Affects The Development of Diabetes in Rodents", Autoimmunity, 1996, 24:137-145.
Classen JB, "The diabetes epidemic and the hepatitis B vaccines," N Z Med J, 109(1030):366 1996 Sep 27. [letter]
Classen JB, "Childhood immunisation and diabetes mellitus," N Z Med J, 109(1022):195 1996 May 24 [letter]
Poutasi K, " Immunisation and diabetes," N Z Med J 1996 Jul 26;109(1026):283. [letter; comment]
Dokheel, T M, "An Epidemic of Childhood Diabetes in the United States? Evidence from ....", Diabetes Care, 1993, 16:1606-1611.
Parent ME, et al, "Bacille Calmette-Guerin vaccination and incidence of IDDM in Montreal, Canada," Diabetes Care 1997 May; 20(5):767-772.
House DV, Winter WE, "Autoimmune diabetes. The role of auto-antibody markers in the prediction and prevention of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus," Clin Lab Med 1997 Sep; 17(3):499-545.
Zeigler, M et al , "[Autoantibodies in type 1 diabetes mellitus]" Z Arztl Fortbild (Jena). 1994 Aug; 88(7-8):561-5Vaccinations and Convulsions and Epilepsy Citations:

Prensky AL, et al, "History of convulsions and use of pertussis vaccine," J Pediatr 1985 Aug; 107(2):244-255.
Baraff LJ, "Infants and children with convulsions and hypotonic-hypo-responsive episodes following diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis immunization: follow-up evaluation," Pediatrics 1988 Jun; ... See More81(6):789-794.
Jacobson V, "Relationship of pertussis immunization to the onset of epilepsy, febrile convulsions and central nervous system infections: a retrospective epidemiologic study," Tokai J Exp Clin Med 1988;13 Suppl: 137-142.
Cupic V,et al, "[Role of DTP vaccine in the convulsive syndromes in children]," Lijec Vjesn 1978 Jun; 100(6):345-348. [Article in Serbo-Croatian (Roman)]
Pokrovskaia NIa, "[Convulsive syndrome in DPT vaccination (a clinico-experimental study)]," Pediatriia 1983 May;(5):37-39. [Article in Russian]

Vaccinations Cause Epilepsy:

Ballerini, Ricci, B, et al, "On Neurological Complications of Vaccination, With Special Reference to Epileptic Syndromes," Riv Neurol, Jul-Aug 1973, 43:254-258.
Wolf SM, Forsythe A, "Epilepsy and mental retardation following febrile seizures in childhood," Acta Paediatr Scand 1989 Mar;78(2):291-295. Vaccines and Brain Swelling:

Iwasa, S et al, "Swelling of the Brain in Mice Caused by Pertussis ... Quantitative Determination and the Responsibility of the Vaccine", Jpn J Med Sci Biol, 1985 , 38(2):53-65.

Mathur R, Kumari S, "Bulging fontanel following triple vaccine." Indian Pediatr 1981 Jun;18(6):417-418.... See More

Barry W, Lenney W, Hatcher G, "Bulging fontanelles in infants without meningitis." Arch Dis Child 1989 Apr;64(4):635-636.

Shendurnikar N, "Bulging fontanel following DPT" Indian Pediatr 1986 Nov;23(11):960.

Gross TP, Milstien JB, Kuritsky JN, "Bulg

Authored by Cancer Nutritionist Craig Stellpflug NDC, CNC
Dayspring Cancer Clinic Scottsdale, AZ
Copyright 2011 Craig Stellpflug© Permission is hereby granted to copy and distribute this article but only in its entirety

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


- Courtesy "Food Medicine"

“The only safe vaccine is one that is never used.” – Dr. James A. Shannon, MD, former director of the National Institutes of Health (1955-1968)

“There is a great deal of evidence to prove that immunization of children does more harm than good.” – Dr. J. Anthony Morris, formerly Chief Vaccine Control Officer at the FDA

“My own personal view is that vaccines are unsafe and worthless. I will not allow myself to be vaccinated again....Vaccines may be profitable but in my view, they are neither safe nor effective.” – Dr. Vernon Coleman, MB, ChB, DSc (Hon)

“Vaccines are highly dangerous, have never been adequately studied or proven to be effective, and have a poor risk/reward ratio....The treatment of cancer and degenerative diseases is a national scandal. The sooner you learn this, the better off you will be.” – Dr. Allen Greenberg, MD

“I found the whole vaccine business was indeed a gigantic hoax. Most doctors are convinced that they are useful, but if you look at the proper statistics and study the instances of these diseases you will realize that this is not so.” – Dr. Archivides Kalokerinos, MD

“The vaccinations are not working and they are dangerous. We should be working with nature.” – Dr. Lendon Smith, MD

“In my medical career I’ve treated vaccinated and unvaccinated children and the unvaccinated children are far healthier than the vaccinated ones.” – Dr. Philip Incao, MD

“There is no scientific evidence that vaccinations are of any benefit, but it is clear that they cause a great deal of harm.” – Dr. Gerhard Buchwald, MD

“Nobody needs to be confused but everybody better be darn well frightened about taking any vaccine, under any circumstance, for any reason, at any time in their life.” – Dr. Daniel H. Duffy Sr., DC (retired air force officer – 21 yrs., family doctor – 28 yrs., vaccination researcher – 49 yrs.)

“I have no faith in vaccination; nay, I look upon it with the greatest possible disgust, and firmly believe that it is often the medium of conveying many filthy and loathsome diseases from one child to another, and no protection whatever against small pox. Indeed, I consider we are now living in the Jennerian epoch for the slaughter of innocents, and the unthinking portion of the adult population.” – Dr. W.J. Collins, MD, BS, BSc, MRCS

“I vaccinated both my children with the MMR jab, but this was before I started my research into the problems associated with it. Knowing what I know now, I would not vaccinate my children and run the risk of them getting diabetes, asthma, eczema, becoming more susceptible to meningitis and ending up chronically disabled.” – Dr. Jayne Donegan, GP, Homeopath

“I once believed in Jenner; I once believed in Pasteur. I believed in vaccination. I believed in vivisection. But I changed my views as the result of hard thinking.” – Dr. Walter Hadwen, MD, LSA, MRCS, LRCP, MB, BS, BSc

“There is no evidence that any influenza vaccine thus far developed is effective in preventing or mitigating any attack of influenza. The producers of these vaccines know that they are worthless, but they go on selling them anyway.” – Dr. J. Anthony Morris, formerly Chief Vaccine Control Officer at the FDA

“There is insufficient evidence to support routine vaccination of healthy persons of any age.” – Dr. Paul Frame, MD, Journal of Family Practice

“Only after realizing that routine immunizations were dangerous did I achieve a substantial drop in infant death rates.” – Dr. Archivides Kalokerinos, MD

“To create fear among parents to strengthen their motivation to vaccinate is an important part of the publicity used to promote vaccinations. A whole branch of research is examining the question: What level of fear needs to be created to appear as convincing as possible?” – Dr. Gerhard Buchwald, MD

“I’ll talk about vaccines. Number one, vaccines make people sick. They don’t work. They don’t protect. The use of vaccines is totally wrong! It’s perfect nonsense based on fear. They are dangerous. One child out of five has overwhelming disabilities from vaccines – nuerological problems, seizures. I’ve got a whole list. There are plenty of books on this subject. Doctors don’t even read about this.” Interview with Guylaine Lanctot, MD

“During those 30 years I have run against so many histories of little children who had never seen a sick day until they were vaccinated and who, in the several years that have followed, have never seen a well day since. I couldn’t put my finger on the disease they have. They just weren’t strong. Their resistance was gone. They were perfectly well before they were vaccinated. They have never been well since.” – Dr. William Howard Hay, MD

“Had my mother and father known that the poliovirus vaccines of the 1950s were heavily contaminated with more than 26 monkey viruses, including the cancer virus SV40, I can say with certainty that they would not have allowed their children and themselves to take those vaccines. Both of my parents might not have developed cancers suspected of being vaccine-related, and might even be alive today.” – Dr. Howard B. Urnovitz, PhD, CEO, CSO and co-founder of Chronix Biomedical

“We are taught by the authorities that vaccines protect us against eventual aggressive viruses and microbes, and, therefore, prevent contagious illnesses and epidemics. This lie has been perpetuated for 150 years despite the ineffectiveness of vaccines in protecting against illnesses.” – Dr. Guylaine Lanctot, MD

The greatest threat of childhood diseases lies in the dangerous and ineffectual efforts made to prevent them through mass immunization....There is no convincing scientific evidence that mass inoculations can be credited with eliminating any childhood disease.” – Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, MD, Author

“Childhood vaccines are giving us a world of chronic illness: autism, developmental disorders, Asperger’s Syndrome, brain tumors, leukemia, cancers, information processing disorders, impulsive violence, allergies, asthma, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, intestinal disorders, are just some of the vaccine associated disorders.” – Dr. Tedd Koren, DC

“I am no longer trying to dig up evidence to prove vaccines cause autism. There is already abundant evidence. This debate is not scientific but is political.” Dr. David Ayoub, MD

“There are at least seven laboratory studies, clinical studies, of blood, cerebral, spinal fluid, biopsies of autistic children which show huge differences between autistic children and normal children in terms of the presence of things like measles vaccine virus in their intestinal tract, for example, or their neurons. So, there’s one line of evidence. Another, of course, is that we have data from thousands of parents who testify, often with videotapes and photographs and eyewitness reports, that their kid was perfectly normal. And they can demonstrate it, as I say, very conclusively with tapes, until after the vaccine. The kid retreated into autism. There’s just converging evidence from many, many directions.” – Dr. Bernard Rimland, PhD, founder and former director of the Autism Research Institute

“When the link between the use of unsafe, mercury-laden vaccine and autism, ADHD, asthma, allergies and diabetes becomes undeniable, mainstream medicine will be sporting a huge, self-inflicted and well-deserved black eye. Then will come the billion-dollar awards, by enraged juries, to the children and their families.” – Dr. Bernard Rimland, PhD, founder and former director of the Autism Research Institute

"The greatest threat to our health today is the medical community, and one of their most dangerous tools is vaccination - particularly the horrific procedure of injecting foreign protein into newborn infants!" - Dr. Daniel H. Duffy, DC

"For thirty years kids died from smallpox vaccinations even though no longer threatened by the disease." - Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, MD

"Many here voice a silent view that the Salk and Sabin Polio Vaccines, being made from monkey kidney tissue, have been directly responsible for the major increase in leukaemia in this country." - Dr. F. Klenner, MD

"As a clinician, my current belief which guides my practice with these children is that any child given the Hep B vaccination at birth and subsequent boosters along with DPT has received unacceptable levels of neurotoxin in the form of the ethyl mercury in the thimerosal preservative used in the vaccine. In any child with a genetic immune susceptibility (probably about one in six) this sets off a series of events that injure the brain-gut-immune system. By the time they are ready to receive the MMR vaccination, their immune system is so impaired in a great number of these children that the triple vaccine cannot be handled by the now dysfunctional immune system and they begin their obvious descent into the autistic spectrum disorder." - Jaquelyn McCandless, MD

"In 1976 I was working in the Gulf Country around Cape York, in an aboriginal community of about 300 people. The Health Department sent around a team and vaccinated about 100 of them against flu. Six were dead within 24 hours or so and they weren't all old people, one man being in his early twenties. They threw the bodies in trucks to take to the coast where autopsies were done. It appeared they had died from heart attacks." - Archie Kalokerinos, MD

"As a retired physician, I can honestly say that unless you are in a serious accident, your best chance of living to a ripe old age is to avoid doctors and hospitals and learn nutrition, herbal medicine and other forms of natural medicine unless you are fortunate enough to have a naturopathic physician available. Almost all drugs are toxic and are designed only to treat symptoms and not to cure anyone.” - Dr. Alan Greenberg, MD

"According to the records of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, from 1911 to 1935 the four leading causes of childhood deaths from infectious diseases in the U.S.A. were diptheria, pertussis, scarlet fever, and measles. However, by 1945 the combined death rates from these causes had declined by 95% before the implementation of mass vaccine programs." - Dr. Buttram, MD

"I would consider the risks associated with measles vaccination unacceptable even if there were convincing evidence that the vaccine works. There isn't. .... In 1900 there were 13.3 measles deaths per 100,000 population. By 1955, before the first measles shot, the death rate had declined 97.7 percent to only 0.03 deaths per 100,000." – Dr. Mendelsohn, MD

"Up to 90% of the total decline in the death rate of children between 1860 and1965, because of whooping cough, scarlet fever, diptheria, and measles, occurred before the introduction of immunizations and antibiotics." - Dr Archie Kalokerinos, MD

"What the vaccinators don't tell you is that communicable diseases have been declining at a steady rate for 150 years and that there is no relationship between the various diseases and the onset of immunization. Without exception, the vaccine program for each of the childhood diseases was inaugurated after that paticular diseases had begun to disappear. Contrary to what you have been told, this includes polio. What the vaccines have done is cause the various childhood diseases to become adulthood diseases - with far more serious implications, mumps in men and rubella in women for example." - Dr. William Douglass, MD

"One of the medical profession’s greatest boasts is that it eradicated smallpox through the use of the smallpox vaccine. I myself believed this claim for many years. But it simply isn’t true. One of the worst smallpox epidemics of all time took place in England between 1870 and 1872 – nearly two decades after compulsory vaccination was introduced. After this evidence that smallpox vaccination didn’t work the people of Leicester in the English midlands refused to have the vaccine any more. When the next smallpox epidemic struck in the early 1890s the people of Leicester relied upon good sanitation and a system of quarantine. There was only one death from smallpox in Leicester during that epidemic. In contrast the citizens of other towns (who had been vaccinated) died in vast numbers. ......Doctors and drug companies may not like it but the truth is that surveillance, quarantine and better living conditions got rid of smallpox – not the smallpox vaccine......It is worth pointing out that Edward Jenner, widely feted as the inventor of the smallpox vaccine, tried out the first smallpox vaccination on his own 10 month old son. His son remained mentally retarded until his death at the age of 21. Jenner refused to have his second child vaccinated." – Dr. Vernon Coleman, MB

"I have lectured all over the world... I have always had a special interest in newspapers. All of them have one thing in common, there is always some reference made to some epidemic in some part of the world. For instance, two years ago, one paper referred to a polio epidemic in Holland. For the past three years, our newspapers have commented on the diphtheria epidemic in Russia. By these means, the population is constantly threatened with epidemics, they have been made to fear them, and the reports always conclude: "Go and get vaccinated." - Dr. Buchwald, MD

"In 1866, an English physician described a very strange illness. Children looked like Mongols. His name was Down. That’s why we call it Down’s Syndrome today... I should add that this syndrome is a result of the vaccinations carried throughout England by Jenner in 1796... It (Down’s Syndrome) is probably the first congenital disease caused by vaccinations. In Germany, the first child with evidence of Down’s Syndrome was reported in 1922. Today, one in every 700 newborns has it." - Dr. Buchwald, MD

"Using kids as guinea pigs in potentially harmful vaccine experiments is every parents' worst nightmare. This actually happened in 1989-1991 when Kaiser Permanente of Southern California and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) jointly conducted a measles vaccine experiment. Without proper parental disclosure, the Yugoslavian-made "high titre" Edmonston-Zagreb measles vaccine was tested on 1,500 poor, primarily black and Latino, inner city children in Los Angeles. Highly recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), the high-potency experimental vaccine was previously injected into infants in Mexico, Haiti, and Africa. It was discontinued in these countries when it was discovered that the children were dying in large numbers." - Dr. Alan Cantwell MD

"Vaccination against tuberculosis is often given as the reason why this disease stopped being quite the threat to life that it had been in the 18th century. But again, this isn’t true. Robert Koch discovered the pathogen that causes TB back in 1883. After that BCG vaccination was introduced and then, subsequently, mass treatment programs were devised with chemotherapy. None of these discoveries or introductions had any effect on the incidence of tuberculosis. Contracting TB doesn’t provide any immunity against a second infection. And if a natural infection doesn’t provide protection then a vaccination certainly won’t provide protection. How on earth can it? It was noticed decades ago that in the lung sanatoriums that specialized in the treatment of TB patients there was no difference in the survival rates of patients who had been ‘protected’ against TB with BCG vaccination when compared to the survival rates of patients who had received no such ‘protection’. The tuberculosis vaccination (the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin – known as BCG) consists of a weakened, living bovine mycobacterium. The vaccine was used for many years but a WHO trial in India showed that the vaccine offers no protection against the disease. Indeed, when new cases of tuberculosis increased annually in the areas where people had been vaccinated against the disease the trial seemed to suggest that there might be a link between the vaccine and outbreaks of the disease." - Dr. Vernon Coleman, MB

"Vaccination against diphtheria was introduced to Germany in 1925. After the introduction of the vaccine the number of cases of diphtheria steadily increased until, shortly after the Second World War, production of the vaccine was halted. There was a decline in the incidence of the disease which coincided with the fact that the vaccination was no longer being used. When the vaccine was subsequently reintroduced the decline in the incidence of the disease slowed down. As with whooping cough, tetanus and other diseases, the incidence and number of deaths from diphtheria, were in decline long before the vaccine was introduced." - Dr. Vernon Coleman, MB

"The whooping cough vaccine has never had much of an influence on the number of children dying from whooping cough. The dramatic fall in the number of deaths caused by the disease came well before the vaccine was widely available and was, historians agree, the result of improved public health measures and, indirectly, the use of antibiotics. ..... The introduction of the vaccine really didn’t make very much, if any, difference to the fall in the incidence of the disease. Even today (1988) thirty years after the introduction of the vaccine, whooping cough cases are still running at about 1,000 a week in Britain. Similarly, the figures show that the introduction of the vaccine had no effect on the number of children dying from whooping cough. ....My second point is that the whooping cough vaccine is neither very efficient nor is it safe..... the government (in the form of the DHSS) has consistently lied about the whooping cough vaccine, has distorted the truth and has deceived both the medical profession (for the majority of doctors and nurses who give these injections accept the recommendations made by the DHSS without question) and millions of parents. The DHSS may have saved itself a tidy sum in damages. But the cost to the nation’s health has been enormous. And this, remember, is merely one more example of the way in which the truth has been distorted by those whom we trust to provide us with honest, accurate advice about medicine and health care." - Dr. Vernon Coleman, MB

How Pesticides Harm the Young Brain

Warning Signs: How Pesticides Harm the Young Brain

Please view the entire article at:
Since 1945, the use of pesticides in the United States has quintupled. More than 1 billion pounds of pesticides—a broad term that includes weed killers, insecticides and fungicides—are now used in the United States each year. Over 1,000 chemicals registered to fight pests and pathogens are formulated into some 20,000 products. Most are for agricultural use, but a fifth are designed for nonagricultural applications—in homes and gardens, playgrounds, schools, offices and hospitals.
So it’s no surprise that studies show many of us—even newborns—harboring detectable levels of pesticides in our bodies. Yet it’s hard to know what that really means for our health. Their mere presence in our systems does not, ipso facto, make for a health threat. Scientists have linked heavy chronic exposure to cancer and birth defects. But what about low-dose continuing exposures—for example, the micrograms that a farmworker might carry home each night on the soles of her boots? Or for those of us who don’t work on a farm, the traces that drift from a lawn or golf course, or remain in the dust after a landlord sprays, or that cling to a piece of fruit? (Produce is the main source of exposure for most children in the United States.)
One place where the answers are being worked out is in the Salinas Valley, where for fifteen years researchers have been following several hundred children of primarily Latino farmworkers since birth. The scientists are based at the University of California, Berkeley, but the hub of the study is in the town of Salinas, in a small tan portable bungalow tucked into a parking lot between the county hospital and county jail. The bungalow is busy almost every day, as the children and their mothers visit for periodic interviews and assessments. The waiting room has comfy chairs, toys for all ages and a TV tuned to Spanish-language programs, since most of the participants are originally from Mexico. Everyone loves a snack from the quesadilla maker in the back.
Maria was one of the study’s earliest enrollees: she has been making regular trips here since before Carla was born in 2000.
The study is known as CHAMACOS, which stands for Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas. The researchers chose that bulky acronym because it’s Mexican slang for “little kids.” “It really means something to our participants,” says Kimberly Parra, the field-office coordinator who manages the traffic of staff, researchers and families through the bungalow.

Pesticides & Polio - All you wanted to know

Pesticides and The Age of Polio

Below is Dan and Mark's 7 part series on polio which ran in 2011. 

By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill

1. The Wrong Narrative.

Polio is the iconic epidemic, its conquest one of medicine’s heroic dramas. The narrative is by now familiar: Random, inexplicable outbreaks paralyzed and killed thousands of infants and children and struck raw terror into 20th century parents, triggering a worldwide race to identify the virus and develop a vaccine. Success ushered in the triumphant era of mass vaccination. Now polio’s last hideouts amid the poorest of the poor in Asia and Africa are under relentless siege by, among others, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Eradication is just a matter of time, and many more illnesses will soon meet the same fate.

But based on our research over the past two years, we believe this narrative is wrong – and wrong for reasons that go beyond mere historical interest. The misunderstanding of polio has warped the public health response to modern illnesses in ways that actually make them harder to prevent, control, and treat.

The reality, we believe, is that the virus itself was just half the epidemic equation -- necessary but not sufficient to create The Age of Polio. Outbreaks were not caused solely by poliovirus – the microbe was an ancient and heretofore harmless intestinal bug -- but by its interaction with a new toxin, most often innovative pesticides used to treat fruits and vegetables.

This alternative narrative makes better sense of the natural history of polio, and it resolves a number of anomalies that remain to this day. It suggests why poliomyelitis outbreaks emerged, evolved, and exploded the way they did; it probably solves, for the first time, the enduring riddle of why Franklin D. Roosevelt was afflicted 90 years ago this summer on Campobello Island; and it may mean today’s billion-dollar-a-year eradication effort is misguided, if not downright quixotic.

These are large claims. Let us explain.


Polio was a strange illness, never fully understood even by those who devoted their lives to studying and subduing it. It was a summer plague, coming on in late spring and all but vanishing in the fall. Many thought contagion had something to do with water, and Americans kept their children away from swimming pools in droves.

There is a profound distinction between poliovirus – an enterovirus, one that enters through the mouth and takes up residence in the GI tract and bloodstream – and poliomyelitis, the paralytic form of the illness. In the vast majority of cases, the virus causes either a minor illness or an inapparent infection.

But in 1 or 2 in 100 cases, the virus somehow gets past multiple defenses and into the nervous system, where it finds its way to the anterior horn cells at the top front of the spinal column. There, it preferentially attacks the gray-colored motor neurons (polio means gray in Greek) and causes inflammation of the protective myelin sheath (myelitis). This interferes with nerve signals to the muscles and can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis of the limbs and the respiratory system. A small number of people who contract poliomyelitis -- on the order of 1 percent -- die.

The first recorded U.S. outbreak was in 1841 in West Feliciana, Louisiana (10 cases, no deaths). There was a half-century gap until the next cluster, in 1893 in Boston (26 cases, no deaths). Then, in 1894, came what is widely regarded as the first major epidemic, in Rutland and Proctor, Vermont (132 cases, 18 deaths). Thirty more outbreaks – from such seemingly disparate locations as Oceana County, Michigan, and California’s Napa Valley -- were reported in the United States through 1909. The worst by far was New York in 1907, with 2,500 cases and a five percent mortality rate, a harbinger of the 1916 epidemic in the Northeast that killed 2,000 in New York City alone.[i]

What is most remarkable about this list is that so few outbreaks of paralytic polio were recorded anywhere in the world before the latter 19th century. Poliomyelitis is considered an ancient scourge, but the evidence supporting that belief is quite threadbare. An oft-cited Egyptian drawing depicts a priest with a withered leg that could have stemmed from paralytic polio, but for most of recorded history there were few observations of the sudden-onset fever and paralysis in infants that characterizes the disease. The earliest well-documented case of infantile paralysis in an individual is widely considered to be Sir Walter Scott, afflicted as an infant in 1773.[ii]

There is little question that the poliovirus was endemic in humans for millennia; there may even have been isolated cases of poliomyelitis for much of that period. Yet the poliovirus did not trigger widespread outbreaks of poliomyelitis. Setting aside for now the 1841 Louisiana outbreak, reported retrospectively, something seems to have happened around 1890 to launch The Age of Polio in the United States. And something else must have changed around the end of World War II to create the large modern epidemics seared into the minds of older Americans, thousands of whom are poliomyelitis survivors and almost all of whom know someone who was afflicted.

While we have not written about polio, we have seen this pattern before. In our book, The Age of Autism – Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic, we argued that something happened in the 1930s to launch The Age of Autism.[iii] We proposed it was the commercialization of ethyl mercury compounds for use in pesticides – seed disinfectants and lumber preservatives – and in vaccinations; we offered evidence of those inventions in the family backgrounds of the first autism cases identified in the medical literature, in 1943. Similarly, we proposed that the sharp rise in autism cases beginning around 1990 tracks with the federal government recommending several more mercury-containing shots.

Our attention was drawn to polio during our autism research when a virologist mentioned, in passing, that poliomyelitis could be triggered in some instances by injections. Called “provocation poliomyelitis,”[iv] this can happen when a needle stick punctures a nerve in the peripheral nervous system. An active poliovirus infection – typically, in a child exposed to the virus for the first time and not yet immune -- can gain access to the nervous system through a process called “retrograde axonal transport,” traveling back to the spinal column and triggering the dreaded paralytic form, poliomyelitis.

Such cases of provocation paralysis, we learned, occurred in Eastern Europe when antibiotics were excessively administered by injection; this practice led to multiple cases of poliomyelitis.[v] Bulbar polio – of the throat and respiratory system – was recognized as more common after tonsillectomies, again because nerve endings had been exposed.[vi] Outbreaks, then, can unquestionably occur as a result of an environmental injury, in these instances either excessive injection or surgery that led to peripheral nerve damage, in the presence of poliovirus infection.

We began to look at the poliomyelitis literature and found that another and much more comprehensive environmental theory of the disease had been put forward almost immediately after the early outbreaks, although it never gained mainstream attention. This theory proposed that what is called “polio” is not caused by a virus at all, but by poisoning from pesticides. In this theory, lead arsenate triggered the early clusters, and DDT kicked off the large outbreaks after World War II. (The pesticide theory has been championed in recent years by Jim West[vii] and by Janine Roberts[viii].)

That really got our attention. In our research for The Age of Autism, we investigated a paralytic illness we believe resulted from an unrecognized interaction between a toxin and a microbe. Called general paralysis of the insane, or GPI, it was a gruesome and universally fatal outcome in a percentage of people infected years earlier with the syphilis bacteria. We proposed that a manmade mercury compound -- ironically used to “treat” syphilis -- allowed syphilis to gain entrance to the brain. When penicillin was developed in the 1940s and actually killed syphilis infections, GPI disappeared because one of the two requirements for the illness – the microbe – was destroyed.

We suggested that a number of other illnesses may follow a similar pattern in which microbes and metals interact, including, in some instances, autism. So the idea that an environmental insult – whether a needle stick or surgery or a toxic metals exposure – could be at work in outbreaks of poliomyelitis intrigued us.

But we did not find the claim that polio was simply poisoning by pesticides alone to be persuasive. The strong versions of both the virus theory and the pesticide theory – that it was entirely one or the other – are too simple to explain the pattern of evidence. The strong viral theory can’t explain the sudden emergence of poliomyelitis; the strong pesticide theory can’t explain the sudden protective effect of poliovirus vaccinations. Rather, we propose that poliomyelitis outbreaks are man-made events that result from the synergy of microbe and toxin.


A threshold question – one that requires an answer for our argument to make sense – concerns what scientists call biological plausibility. What is the mechanism by which the virus and a toxin could cause such damage? We’ll look at the particular properties of lead and arsenate shortly, but our fundamental idea is that both the poliovirus and the pesticide enter the body by the same route -- they are ingested -- and both end up in the stomach. There, the toxin could damage the stomach lining in such a way that the virus gains access to peripheral nerves. This kind of virus-toxin interaction (perhaps with arsenic or lead acting alone as the toxin) took place sporadically before 1890 and increased dramatically, we propose, with the invention of more potent insecticides like lead arsenate. With the advent of DDT, the interaction became even more dangerous, dramatically increasing the number of cases.

The idea that toxins have played any role in poliomyelitis outbreaks is not widely accepted, to say the least. In his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1995 book, Polio, Peter Oshinsky dismisses it in a sentence: By 1952, the peak year of the epidemic, the search for answers had grown so desperate that “a few blamed the dumping of poisons into the environment, especially the pesticide DDT,” he writes.[ix]

Yet on the very next page, Oshinsky describes a farm family, frantic about the epidemic sweeping Iowa that awful summer. The parents “tested the well water – it was fine – and used extra DDT to drive away flies.” Still, nine of their 11 children were affected, two of them paralyzed. The family “had done everything they were told to do,” Oshinsky writes, “everything they could. Why had it happened to them?”

Why, indeed? The search for an answer begins in the 1850s in Medford, Massachusetts.

2. A Gypsy Moth Flaps Its Wings.

Etienne Leopold Trouvelot arrived in the United States from France in the late 1850s and settled into his brand new house at 27 Myrtle Street in Medford, a suburb of Boston. A self-taught scientist and later an astronomer affiliated with Harvard, his interest alighted first on insects, and he turned the land adjoining his home into a virtual boarding house for bugs.

“To contain his hordes of larvae he constructed a stupendous barricade to encircle his grounds – a wooden fence eight feet high that encompassed his full five acres of shrubs and small trees,” writes author Robert J. Spear. “Netting was stretched from the perimeter of the fences across the trees and was supported in the middle on posts, making it possible for Trouvelot to walk upright through his specialized insectary.”[x]

A decade later, he acquired a handful of gypsy moths, probably on a trip back to France – there were none in the United States. What happened next can be deduced from the title of Spear’s book, The Great Gypsy Moth War. Inevitably, insects escaped, not least because birds continually pecked their way into what they viewed as a very large diner.

The gypsy moths did not make their presence known outside the “stupendous barricade” for about a decade, but when they did, the results were apocalyptic. Lacking natural predators, they denuded trees – especially fruit trees – in what seemed like a single collective gulp. Then they crawled onward and upward. “Citizens could only stare in disbelief as the dirt streets became carpeted with millions of larvae across Myrtle Street,” writes Spear, “turning its surface black with the bodies of fast-moving caterpillars.”

Horrified residents combed gypsy moth larvae out of their hair, shoveled them off the steps, stomped them underfoot and burned huge clusters in noxious kerosene fires. But humans were simply outmatched. The Hellstrom Chronicles, the 1970s movie that suggested insects would inherit the earth, was coming alive in suburban Boston.

Even professional bug-killers were defenseless against the new arrival – Paris Green and London Purple, two state-of-the–art arsenic compounds that were potent against most pests, didn’t work at all. To some, it appeared that the food supply of the United States was at imminent risk. The state put together a Gypsy Moth Commission with an urgent mandate: Kill the bugs dead.

Fortunately – or so it seemed – a scientist working for the commission quickly found a solution. Adding lead to arsenic proved lethal to the larvae, and the new compound was sprayed on trees in and around Boston starting in 1893. It quickly proved its value against not just gypsy moths but all manner of agricultural pests. In fact, it worked better against codling moths, the source of the proverbial “worm in the apple.”

“In the case of insects which do not readily yield to Paris Green, a different substance, used with great success by the Gypsy Moth Commission, with which it originated, may be applied,” wrote George H. Perkins, state entomologist of Vermont in his annual report for 1893, published in early 1894. “This is arsenate of lead; sodic arsenate 29.93%, lead acetate 70.07%, are mixed in water, from which arsenate of lead is soon formed.”[xi]


Something else of note happened in 1893 in the Boston area. Two doctors used to seeing sporadic cases of paralysis in infants became concerned when the small caseload suddenly increased, to 23. There had only been six in the same September-November time span the year before.

“Is Acute Poliomyelitis Unusually Prevalent This Season?” asked Drs. James J. Putnam and Edward Wyllys Taylor in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal for November 23, 1893.[xii] “It would not have seemed worthwhile to report these few observations had it not been that the number of cases observed at the Massachusetts General Hospital in September and October of this year is decidedly larger than usual,” they wrote. (The comment shows that isolated cases of paralysis were not unusual in Boston, where the Gypsy Moth War had been raging since 1890. It was the number and timing that drew their attention.)

While the doctors noted the time of year, they did not notice that September and October were apple-harvesting season. They did ask “other physicians who have seen these interesting cases, or may see them in future, to send brief records.”

The future came quickly. Within seven months, Vermont – where George H. Perkins had given the formula for lead arsenate in his annual report – was hit hard. “The first major polio outbreak to be recognized in the United States did not occur until 1894,” writes well-known vaccine developer Samuel Katz. “It came in Rutland, Vermont, for reasons I need an epidemiologist to explain to me. There had been scattered individual cases prior to that date, but this was the first recorded outbreak resulting in 18 deaths and 32 individuals with residual paralysis among a total of 132 cases.”[xiii]

The outbreak was described in a classic report by Dr. C.S. Caverly, a Rutland physician and president of the Vermont Board of Health.[xiv] “During the month of June, 1894, there appeared in a portion of the valley of the Otter Creek, in the State of Vermont, an epidemic of nervous disease, in which the distinctive and most common symptom was paralysis.” Caverly didn’t know what to make of it, but he noted that the cases tended to cluster along Otter Creek and its tributaries.

In 1896, in a follow-up report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Caverly noted something strange: “During this epidemic and in the same geographical area, an acute nervous disease, paralytic in its nature, affected domestic animals. Horses, dogs and fowls died with these symptoms.”

A horse “died paralyzed in the hind legs,” a fowl was paralyzed in its legs and wings. In the horse, the spinal cord showed “atrophy of the anterior nerve root”; in the fowl, “an acute poliomyelitis of the lumbar portion of the cord ...”[xv]


Polio chart 

After the Boston and Rutland outbreaks, poliomyelitis clusters were reported in the United States almost every year. Earlier, we mentioned the 33 U.S. outbreaks recorded before 1910. Returning to that list, there appears to be an overlooked association with intensive commercial fruit and vegetable growing.  After its introduction in 1893, lead arsenate was soon used on apples, apricots, asparagus, avocados, blackberries, blueberries (huckleberries), boysenberries, celery, cherries, citrus  (in Florida), cranberries, currants, dewberries, eggplant, gooseberries, grapes, loganberries, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, quinces, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes and youngberries.[xvi]

With that in mind, consider these pre-1910 outbreaks:

--Boston, 1893. The year lead arsenate was first used there or anywhere.

--Rutland, Vermont, 1894. The year the state entomologist gave the formula for making it.

-- Cherryfield, Maine, 1896. Commercial blueberry-producing center.

-- San Francisco and the Napa Valley, 1896. Home to vineyards and many other crops.

-- Dutchess County and Poughkeepsie, N.Y., 1899. Agriculture and especially orchards – the county’s Web site features a stylized apple.

-- San Joaquin Valley, California, 1899. The nation’s Salad Bowl.

-- San Francisco and vicinity, 1901. A reprise of 1896.

-- Galesville, Wisconsin, 1907. Apples again. The Chamber of Commerce logo features an apple, and the annual Apple Affair is held the first Saturday in October. “Orchards from the area set up stands on the square where visitors can purchase apples and apple treats served up by local growers. Apple pie, apple slices, caramel apples, Apple Normandy, Queen's Apple, apple cider, apple juice -- if it's apple, you'll find it here.”

-- Oceana County, Michigan, 1907. Self-proclaimed Asparagus Capital of the World, the largest asparagus producer in Michigan and one of the largest in the nation. Home to the National Asparagus Festival held the second week of June. (One of us, born in Chicago in June 1952, spent summers in Pentwater, in Oceana County. His parents wanted to get their children away from the risk of polio in the big city.)

These links, we suggest, are far from random, pointing instead to locations where circulating poliovirus strains might combine with the growing use of the new lead arsenate insecticide to disastrous effect. Other locations point more generally to agriculture – Central Illinois in 1905, the states of Iowa and Wisconsin in 1908, rural locations in Pennsylvania in 1907 and 1908 – or to population centers where produce would be shipped – particularly New York City in 1907, a veritable fresh fruit and vegetable market to this day.


So the convergence of time and place in the early natural history of poliomyelitis outbreaks raises intriguing questions. But what can we say about the toxin itself and its relation to features of poliomyelitis? We can say:

Lead and arsenic can kill and paralyze humans. 

Whether ingested or inhaled, several metals have long been recognized as hazards in the workplace and for miners; in Roman times, work in mercury mines was so lethal that only slaves and prisoners were sent into them. More recently, lead was removed from gasoline and paint because both inhalation and ingestion can stunt the mental development of children; arsenic has been banned from medicine and agricultural use in the United States; small amounts in apple juice, made from apples grown in China, triggered a national controversy this month.

“That arsenic can produce paralysis was already known in the 14th century,” begins the monograph On Arsenical Paralysis, written in 1893 by S.E. Henschen in Sweden. “Since then many similar cases have been observed; and at present there are more than 150 cases of arsenical paralysis mentioned in the literature.”[xvii]

The cases, he said, were comparatively few, and most recovered. He described the case of Maja Lisa Blomster, age 49, who in 1883 took “a white tasteless powder” on the advice of a traveler who said it would help her epilepsy. “After that the patient experienced a prickly sensation or slight pains in the inside of the hands and soles of the feet, and when she walked she thought she felt something like needles between her feet and the floor.

“The following morning she noticed on waking that the feet refused to do service. She tried in vain to bend and stretch out the foot joints and on trying to stand and walk the feet turned on the sides.”

Lead is even more toxic to humans. “The ancients were unquestionably aware of the dangerous character of lead and knew that it was poisonous when taken internally,” wrote H.A. Waldron in “Lead Poisoning in the Ancient World.”[xviii] The most toxic sources appeared to be lead drinking goblets. “And yet” – shades of mistakes and misjudgments to come – “the Romans and Greeks continued to expose themselves to the effects of a metal they knew to be harmful through their food and drink.”

In the seventh century, Paul of Aegina gave the first account of an epidemic of lead colic he described as “having taken its rise in the country of Italy, but raging also in many other regions of the Roman empire, like a pestilential contagion, which in many cases terminates in epilepsy, but in others in paralysis of the extremities. … of the paralytics the most recovered, as their complaint proved a critical metastasis of the cause of the disorder.”

In Lead and Lead Poisoning in Antiquity, Jerome R. Nriagu of Environment Canada writes “literary classics sparkle with passages on lead poisoning, reflecting, no doubt, the attempts by men of letters to deal with problems of their time.”[xix] In The Uncommercial Traveler, Charles Dickens describes a woman who worked in the lead mills because she had no alternative but desperate poverty. “What could she do? Better be ulcerated and paralyzed for eighteen pence a day, while it lasted, than see the children starve.”

In the Book of Minerals, Albertus Magnus wrote in 1262 that “care must also be taken lest it [lead] cause paralysis of the lower limbs, and unconsciousness. This, then, is the nature of lead in its constitution and effects.”

And these, then, were the compounds chemists were mixing beginning in 1893 in Boston. Is it any wonder that Dr. Putnam raised the question the same year whether infantile paralysis was “unusually common this season?”

In fact, just two years before, a speech Putnam gave to the Massachusetts Medical Society was described in a British Medical Journal article titled, “The Injuriousness of Arsenic as a Domestic Poison.”[xx]  Putnam “points out that paralysis is only the final and gross symptom of a neuritis which may have been going on for a long time.” Arsenic was hard to avoid, he added, because it was still widely used in medicine (a book about the ubiquity of arsenic during the era is titled The Arsenic Century). 

Lead arsenate can paralyze and kill animals that ingest it. In January 1920, Veterinary Times published an article by J.W. Kalkus, head of Veterinary Science at the State College of Washington Agricultural Experiment Station, titled “Orchard Horse Disease.” This revealing piece begins: “The writer recently had an opportunity of making an investigation of a disease which has been causing considerable loss among horses in certain sections of Washington.”[xxi]

It went by several names, Kalkus reported, among them orchard horse disease; orchard poisoning; alfalfad horses; arsenate of lead poisoning; mold poisoning.

Regardless of the name, the circumstances were the same: “The condition occurs in enzootic form in the irrigated apple orchard districts. … The disease was little known prior to the last three years. … It is now claimed by many that it is practically impossible to keep a horse for any great length of time on an irrigated orchard tract, where orchard-grown hay is fed, without the animal attracting the disease. … Present knowledge indicates this disease is confined to the irrigated apple orchard districts where fruit is grown on a commercial basis, and where it is common practice to use arsenate of lead in spraying fruit trees.”

Alfalfa was grown as a cover crop between orchard trees. Lead arsenate spray was often applied so thickly that it dropped onto the alfalfa, giving it a gray color. While some veterinarians did not believe lead arsenate caused the problems – because it did not exactly mimic what was known of lead and arsenic poisoning – Kalkus seemed in little doubt. One reason is that such problems had already been reported.

Experiments with lead arsenate conducted on pigs, calves, and sheep produced symptoms similar to horse orchard disease, Kalkus wrote. Another researcher fed different amounts of lead arsenate to five cows, “all of which died following symptoms of violent purgation, in some cases followed by paralysis.”

The horses Kalkus describes all became ill with fever, apparent abdominal pain and a cough. Some started to recover, but were then affected by paralysis of the vocal cords. Kalter quotes a veterinarian who was convinced lead arsenate was the cause: “As lead and arsenic are contained in the spray material it is highly possible that an idiosyncrasy exists, some individuals being susceptible to lead and acquiring the chronic form and others showing an acute form due to arsenic.”

In early polio epidemics, both animals and people suffered from paralysis. In May 1912, The Medical Times published an article by Jacolyn Van Vliet Manning titled, “The Correlation of Epidemic Paralysis in Animal and Man.”[xxii]

“A close relationship between paralytic cases in man and animal during epidemics of poliomyelitis has been observed in nine Western states of the United States” as well as in England and Sweden, he wrote, affecting dogs, cats, sheep, hogs and fowl. One case: On May 27, 1911, a boy contracted poliomyelitis. “One week before the boy’s illness a horse belonging to this lad’s father had an attack of what is locally known as ‘poke-neck;’ it is said to have been paralyzed in the neck and forequarters; it fell down in the stable and was unable to rise.”

In Minnesota in 1909, during an epidemic of 1,000 cases in humans, a state epidemiologist reported that a disease “strongly analogous in clinical history and symptoms to the disease in the human” had simultaneously afflicted three colts. Wrote Dr. C.S. Shore: “In my veterinary practice of the past five or six years I have found a disease appearing among one or two year old colts that shows a line of symptoms corresponding closely to anterior poliomyelitis in children. I have had from five to six cases a year during this time, always occurring during the Summer months, and the majority of them during the month of August.”[xxiii]

In fact, as Manning notes, C.S. Caverly made the same observation about the first U.S. epidemic in Vermont in 1894. Something was causing polio-like symptoms in both humans and animals at the same time, in the same place.

The poliovirus may have been a key co-factor in the human cases of poliomyelitis, but the local presence of lead arsenate is also demonstrated by the paralytic cases of animals. These could not have been caused by the virus, which only produces illness in primates. The simultaneous illness of humans and animals is thus a crucial but overlooked clue to causation.

There were concerns lead arsenate caused polio outbreaks. Astonishingly, lead arsenate was proposed as a cause of polio outbreaks early on. In Massachusetts, where the compound was first used, the State Forester reported in 1912, under a section headed Infantile Paralysis: “In view of the fact that a feeling has been entertained by some people in the State that infantile paralysis has been caused in some instances by arsenate of lead used in spraying for the gypsy and brown-tail moths, the State Forester has caused a rigid investigation to be made in order to determine if there is any foundation upon which to base such fears.”[xxiv]

On the other side of the globe, a New Zealand newspaper reported in 1914: “The oft-expressed opinion that the arsenate of lead spray on fruit is the cause of the prevalence of infantile paralysis will be discussed at the next meeting of the Upper Clutha Fruit-growers’ Association at Bannockburn. The association is taking steps to obtain the result of Government experiments regarding this matter.”[xxv] (We have not found a follow-up report.)

Toxins as a possible factor in outbreaks of paralysis were dismissed by biased investigators. Given these connections and concerns, what happened? Or rather, what didn’t happen? Why did such strong clues about the nature of a disease that followed the planting season like clockwork year after year fail to crystallize in the minds of researchers?

The simple answer is that right from the start, the wrong people were in charge of connecting the dots. Regarding the fears of Massachusetts residents, the State Forester – whose job is to look after trees, not people – wrote that “as a result of his research he is firmly convinced that the use of arsenate of lead has in no way been responsible for the existence of the disease [infantile paralysis], and apprehends no danger in the future from its use. Any anxiety concerning the danger from the use of arsenate of lead is entirely unwarranted.”[xxvi]

As for animals, in 1897 A.H. Kirkland, a researcher for the Gypsy Moth Commission in Massachusetts, home to lead arsenate, conducted an experiment with a single horse fed the pesticide. The animal not only remained “well and hearty” but in “better condition” [italics in original] than before.[xxvii] That contradicted not only the Washington state report that described horse orchard disease, but several other veterinary studies.

A 1917 article in the journal Economic Entomology – by and for specialists who make their living controlling pests that threaten profits – also examined the risk to livestock and, by extension, people. “So far as our experiments with guinea pigs may be relied on, the results indicated that five or even ten times the average maximum per apple found in our analyses could not be expected to constitute a dangerous single dose for a human being.”[xxviii]

In the 1962 classic Silent Spring, Rachel Carson addressed this kind of convenient blindness and bias when she wrote about the inability of parties with an economic interest to acknowledge the damage pesticides caused to wildlife.

"The credibility of the witness is of first importance,” she wrote. Compared to a wildlife biologist, “the entomologist, whose specialty is insects, is not so qualified by training, and is not psychologically disposed to look for undesirable side effects of his control program.

“Yet it is the control men in state and federal governments – and of course the chemical manufacturers – who steadfastly deny the facts reported by the biologists and declare they see little evidence of harm to wildlife. Like the priest and the Levite in the biblical story, they choose to pass by on the other side and to see nothing. Even if we charitably explain their denials as due to the shortsightedness of the specialist and the man with an interest this does not mean we must accept them as qualified witnesses."[xxix]

And so poliomyelitis spread unchecked through the first two decades of the 20th century before snaring, in 1921, its most famous victim.

3. Making Sense of Campobello.

Despite its name, the town of Cherryfield, Maine, calls itself the Blueberry Capital of the World, and there is no disputing the claim. Ninety-five percent of the world’s commercial blueberries are grown in surrounding Washington County, and Cherryfield is a major processing and shipping center. Machias, the county seat, hosts the annual Blueberry Festival every August. The festival puts on a musical, this year titled “Blueberry Fields Forever,” and a pie-eating contest – blueberry, of course.

The area has a couple of other claims to fame. Washington County hugs the Atlantic Coast where the United States meets Canada, the easternmost point in the United States; the city of Eastport is the first to see the sunrise. The region is known as Down East

Polio Downeast 

[A Map of Washington County Maine, also known as Sunrise County, with Cherryfield and Campobello circled. Click photo to enlarge.]

Two miles offshore is the island of Campobello, part of New Brunswick, Canada, where Franklin D. Polio Campobello House Roosevelt and his family spent summers. It was on his “beloved island” in August, 1921 – ninety years ago – that Roosevelt was afflicted with a paralytic illness diagnosed as poliomyelitis.

But this remote and lightly populated area already had a significant history with polio – one of the first clusters in the United States occurred in Cherryfield a quarter-century earlier, in 1896 (we cited it in our list of pre-1910 outbreaks with links to fruits and vegetables). Seven children were affected, and one died. In all the discussion and theorizing about Roosevelt’s illness over the intervening decades, this convergence has been overlooked.


Polio FDR Boat Roosevelt arrived at Campobello on Sunday afternoon, August 7, on the yacht of a friend who sailed him up from New York City. The previous week, Roosevelt had visited a Boy Scout camporee on Bear Mountain, N.Y., not far from the family’s Hudson River home in Hyde Park.[xxx]

At the dock, his family was waiting. His children played on the yacht through the adults’ cocktail hour, then were taken home while Franklin and Eleanor stayed for an elegant dinner on the fantailed aft deck, served by uniformed stewards.

Three days later, on Wednesday, August 10, Roosevelt went to bed early in the cranberry-red cottage on Campobello Island, unusually tired and suspecting “a slight case of lumbago” (lower back pain). He had chills during the night, and in the morning one of his legs was weak; the paralysis had begun. By the next night, both legs were paralyzed.

Because of the defining role it played in his life and, inevitably, world history, the days leading up to the attack have been dissected in detail by Roosevelt’s multiple biographers. Most historians believe he contracted the poliovirus on his visit to the Boy Scouts, which would have multiplied the chances of exposure to a youth with an active infection. Alternatively, he could have come down with the virus sometime between the Bear Mountain trip and his departure for Campobello.

After his arrival at Campobello, much has been made of a fall overboard while sailing in the Bay of Fundy; of his typically energetic activities on the day he first felt ill, which included putting out a small forest fire on a nearby island and going for a dip with his children in a freshwater pond near his house. The “paralyzingly cold” water of the Bay of Fundy became an ominous metaphor for what was about to happen, but was never a serious biological argument.

  Polio Campobello

Since most victims were infants or children, the fact that Roosevelt was 39 at the time has also gotten attention. In 2003, a study in The Journal of Medical Biography proposed Roosevelt Polio FDR fight actually had Guillain–Barré syndrome, not poliomyelitis.[xxxi] While interesting, the evidence for such a diagnosis is not strong. Arguing against it is a comment by Elliott Roosevelt, FDR’s young son who was present when his father took ill. He and other children went on a previously planned camping trip – now without their stricken father -- because Eleanor wanted to keep them away from the risk of infection.

On that trip, Elliott wrote, “each of us children had some of the same symptoms as Father but in much milder form. We had runny noses, slight temperatures, and, a telltale sign, an odd feeling of stiffness in the neck. These comparatively mild aches and pains got overlooked in the developing crisis which gripped us all.”[xxxii]

Poliomyelitis remains the likeliest diagnosis: the timeline fits with an exposure at the Boy Scout camp. Estimates of the incubation period – typically a week or two, though that can vary considerably in either direction –match the Roosevelt scenario, no longer than 13 days.

And Roosevelt’s presence in the world’s commercial blueberry capital at harvest time when his illness struck seems remarkable in light of the lead arsenate theory, which already had been proposed more than once in the decade before his illness. (Next year’s Blueberry Festival begins August 14.) Eleanor herself did the family’s grocery marketing in Eastport, and Roosevelt’s love of blueberries and other fresh fruit is well documented. His chef in the White House, Henrietta Nesbitt, wrote that he was “fond of blueberry and other pies.”[xxxiii] In the cafeteria at FDR’s presidential library in Hyde Park, the Henrietta Nesbitt Café, the most prominent picture is of the broadly grinning president being served a big piece of pie.

Before a trip to South America, Nesbitt wrote, “I made up a list of his favorite dishes for the ship’s mess, and it was practically a copy of the list Mrs. Roosevelt had made out and had ready for me on my first day at the White House.” That list began with “Roast beef pink juice running” and includes “frozen strawberries, raspberries, and cherries for dessert.” Eleanor Roosevelt’s recipe for Blueberry Pudding has survived.[xxxiv]

None of this shows FDR eating a mound of fresh blueberries treated with lead arsenate in August 1921, but it seems more probable than not.


Roosevelt famously survived polio, turning his personal tragedy into “Sunrise at Campobello” and leading America through the Great Depression and World War II, though his health flagged in later years as a result of his battle with polio. Some historians believe he was not up to the task of confronting Stalin at the Yalta conference that shaped the post-War world and led to the descent of the Iron Curtain and the Cold War. Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Ga., in 1945, the retreat where he had worked valiantly to overcome paralysis and help others do the same.

In death he became a symbol for the suffering of thousands of polio victims and galvanized the search for a vaccine. Sadly, despite the March of Dimes campaign he helped launch to find the cause and cure, polio outbreaks were about to get worse. Much worse.

4. Post-War Epidemics and the Triumph of Vaccination.

Life magazine for August 15, 1949, reflected the booming exuberance of the times. The cover, “How Life 49 to Dress for Hollywood,” featured a buxom starlet in suitably sultry attire. There were ads for DeSotos and Nashes and Chevys to mobilize families and their growing broods of children; cigarettes like Pall Mall, whose “greater length of traditionally fine, mellow tobaccos serves as a longer, natural filter to screen and cool the smoke on the way to your throat”; toothpastes to brush away smoker’s breath and shine stained teeth, and articles on everything from a new sailboat called the Sunfish to a town in Louisiana that cut its taxes in half by installing slot machines.[xxxv]

But twin specters of death and destruction hung over this bright baby-boomer world – the anxiety over atomic annihilation if the Cold War turned hot, and every parents’ most proximate fear for their children, polio.

There were two articles on polio in this August issue. One was titled “Summer season brings epidemics of this uncontrollable disease” and noted that “throughout the nation last week the threat of polio was growing. Starting with some spotty outbreaks during May and June the disease had reached near-epidemic proportions during the sultry drought-ridden month of July. By Aug. 1, 8,300 cases had been reported, a 43% increase over last year. Polio seemed more uncontrollable than ever.”

The peak was still ahead – 1952 would bring 58,000 cases -- but the path to prevention had already accelerated faster than any of the cars on display in Life’s pages in 1949. The year before, John Enders’ research group in Boston had cultivated the poliovirus in human tissue, a Nobel-winning breakthrough that cleared a path for Jonas Salk’s vaccine, which followed in 1955. Successful field trials among several hundred thousand children known as Polio Pioneers were announced on April 12, 1955 – the tenth anniversary of FDR’s death. Church bells rang out across the nation.

The jubilation was justified in terms of the vaccine’s effect on the poliovirus – by 1961, only 161 cases of poliomyeltis were confirmed in the United States, just 29 more than the first epidemic year of 1894. But with the outbreaks ending, basic research withered. As Life noted, “how polio is spread, how the virus enters the body, they do not know.”


Polio chart for part 4 

In 1949, the same year as the Life article, Drs. Morton S. Biskind and Irving Bieber published “DDT Poisoning – A New Symptom With Neuropsychiatric Manifestations” in the American Journal of Psychotherapy. “By far the most disturbing of all the manifestations are the subjective reactions and the extreme muscular weakness,” they reported.[xxxvi]

In subsequent papers and testimony, Biskind linked DDT directly to cases of poliomyelitis – including a Dec. 12, 1950, statement to the Select Committee to Investigate the Use of Chemicals in Food Products, United States House of Representatives.[xxxvii] He quoted another doctor that “wherever DDT had been used intensively against polio, not only was there an epidemic of the syndrome I have described but the incidence of polio continued to rise and in fact appeared where it had not been before.

“This is not surprising since it is known that not only can DDT poisoning produce a condition that may easily be mistaken for polio in an epidemic but also being a nerve poison itself, may damage cells in the spinal cord and thus increase the susceptibility to the virus.”

“Facts are stubborn,” Biskind concluded, “and refusal to accept them does not avoid their inexorable effects -- the tragic consequences are now upon us.”

The theory was also advanced by Ralph R. Scobey, who in 1952 gave a statement to the same House committee. Titled “The Poison Cause of Poliomyelitis and Obstructions To Its Investigation,”[xxxviii] it described associations between harvest seasons, fresh fruit consumption, and polio epidemics.

The next year, Biskind made the link even more explicit: “In the United States the incidence of polio had been increasing prior to 1945 at a fairly constant rate, but its epidemiologic characteristics remained unchanged. Beginning in 1946 the rate of increase more than doubled.” Yet far from looking into a toxic etiology, he said, “virtually the entire apparatus of communication, lay and scientific alike, has been devoted to denying, concealing, suppressing, distorting and attempts to convert into its opposite, the overwhelming evidence. Libel, slander and economic boycott have not been overlooked in this campaign.”[xxxix]

But the idea that the active compounds in pesticides could cause paralysis was hardly farfetched. Pesticides are designed to cause mayhem with the nervous systems of their targets.

Lead arsenate was an inorganic pesticide, DDT an organochlorine compound. Both cause neurons to fire randomly, interfering with the ability of the brain to communicate with the rest of the body and leading to paralysis, spasms and death. DDT’s unintended impact on other living things was recognized after Silent Spring, though the focus then was on wildlife, not humans. That was enough to get both DDT and lead arsenate banned in the United States.

Because DDT required a co-factor – the poliovirus – to trigger outbreaks of poliomyelitis, the effect on humans was missed. Adding to the complexity may be the fact, observed in “horse orchard disease,” that living things react with different levels of sensitivity to toxins.

So DDT, we believe, succeeded lead arsenate not just as the insecticide of choice, but as an even more potent environmental co-factor in polio outbreaks. Understanding the role these toxins played was a significant insight and deserved serious attention, just as the early concerns about lead arsenate might have ended The Age of Polio almost as soon as it began.

The DDT theory, like the lead arsenate observation, failed because it wrongly dismissed the equally important role of the virus itself. It could not account for the prompt collapse of polio in the U.S. after the vaccine was developed. The vaccine clearly eliminated outbreaks in the United States. Subsequent attempts to show that domestic DDT use waned about the same time, or that polio was reclassified as other illnesses in an elaborate “scam” to hide the vaccine’s ineffectiveness, don’t really stand up against the evidence.

The pesticide theory was an important one, and Biskind pointed to the synergy of toxin and virus when he suggested DDT might damage cells in the spinal cord and “increase the susceptibility to the virus” – though that is not the mechanism we believe was at work. But the virus hunters were not about to be distracted as they closed in on a vaccine that could stop the epidemics in their tracks. This meant, as we shall see, that in areas where the vaccination effort was less successful, co-factors could continue to trigger outbreaks.

Before addressing that, however, there are two more obvious tests to which we need to put our theory. Infantile paralysis occurred before lead arsenate was invented in 1893. How do we explain that? And what about polio outbreaks that have continued in the absence of either lead arsenate or DDT pesticides? Do they fit our new narrative?

5. Before.

Our research on the natural history of autism convinced us that while there may have been a few scattered cases throughout history, the disorder first occurred in appreciable numbers – as clusters and ultimately as an epidemic -- only after 1930. Observations at that time about the rarity and novelty of the disorder are far more persuasive than retrospective efforts to claim significant numbers of cases before then.

The same holds true for poliovirus. Nowhere is that clearer than in the 1917 book “Poliomyelitis In All Its Aspects,”[xl] by John Ruhrah and Erwin E. Mayer. “It seems to be a disease of comparatively recent origin,” they wrote. “In the history of most diseases there is a gradual shading off into the older writers until the disease is lost in confusion of inaccurate descriptions. Not so with polio.”

They continued: “The disease is so striking in its symptomatology, so devastating in its results, and produces such a deep impression on the popular mind that it does not seem possible that any very considerable epidemics could have happened in the countries in which there were physicians making records of what occurred.”

The same point is driven home by John R. Paul in his standard 1971 text on the disease, A History of Poliomyelitis[xli]. “There was no idea in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that poliomyelitis was contagious,” wrote Paul, a professor of preventive medicine and epidemiology at Yale who conducted important polio research himself. A half a dozen cases within a half-mile of each other might have escaped notice, but “had there been larger outbreaks in the early or mid-19th century it seems highly unlikely that they would have gone unnoticed.”

But just as arsenic and lead caused instances of paralysis before the invention of lead arsenate, there was also an emerging medical literature of poliomyelitis before recurring outbreaks began in 1893. Beginning just before 1800, there’s a history of doctors who took a reasonable cut at identifying the disease. These include, in 1789, Michael Underwood, who used the term “debility of the lower extremities”[xlii]; and in 1840, Jacob Heine, who is sometimes credited as the first to diagnose poliomyelitis.

Several doctors later used the word “paralysis” in describing a similar condition in infants: West in 1843; Rillet in 1851; Duchesne in 1864. By 1860, Heine had pinpointed the spinal cord as the source of the paralysis, and in 1872, the great French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot called it “tephromyelitis anterior acuta parenchymatose.” This was a pretty modern description, but his precise nomenclature didn’t quite catch hold. In 1874, German doctor Adolph Kussmaul coined the term “poliomyelitis anterior acuta,” later shortened to poliomyelitis.

Going further back, plausible descriptions grow sparse but include the crippled Egyptian priest in a stele dated from 1580-1350 B.C. In 460 B.C., Hippocrates wrote about clubfoot, which may have included some cases of infantile paralysis. And in 200, Galen also discussed clubfoot.

But those were vanishingly rare, and when Underwood described “debility of the lower extremities” in 1789, he clearly thought he was reporting a new phenomenon, just as Ruhrah and Paul asserted with the benefit of much greater epidemiological sophistication. “This disorder either is not noticed by any medical writer within the compass of my reading, or is not so described as to ascertain the disease here intended,” Underwood wrote. “It is not a common disorder anywhere, I believe.”


Polio chart for part 5 

Outbreaks of more than one case, then, were a distinctly 19th-century phenomenon, and until the 1890s worldwide episodes can be counted on two hands[xliii]:

-- In 1835, John Badham’s description of 4 cases in Worksop, England.

-- In 1830-36, Charles Bell’s discussion of multiple cases in St. Helena.

-- In 1841, George Colmer’s discussion of 8-10 cases in Feliciana, Louisiana.

-- In 1868, Bull’s discussion of 14 cases in Odalen, Norway (cited by Leegard, 1914).

-- In 1881, Bergenholtz’s description of 13 cases in Umea, Sweden.

--In 1883, a report of 5 cases in Arenzano, Italy (cited by Hull, 1917).

--In 1885, another report of 13 cases in Sainte-Foy L’Argentiere, France (cited by Hull, 1917).

--In 1886, 9 cases in Mondel, Norway (cited by Hull, 1917).

-- In 1887, Oskar Medin’s discussion of 44 cases in and around Stockholm. This description uses the term “poliomyelitis anterior acuta,” argues that it is likely to be infectious and gives a pretty clear description of the modern disorder. His piece is considered a classic and polio used to be called “Heine-Medin disease” in honor of his very contemporary description.

Obviously, all these cases were described before the invention of lead arsenate in 1893. So there were undoubtedly other ways to make this pattern occur; a prime suspect would be arsenic in other forms, as well as other toxic metals, since they are well known to cause paralysis in workers and others exposed to them. Interestingly, both Badham and Colmer mention teething, and the latter said it was a likely cause. In fact, “teething paralysis” was sometimes used as a term for infantile paralysis.[xliv]

Teething powders containing calomel – mercurous chloride – were used beginning around then, and mercury is well-known to cause paralysis. Mercury in medicine was so widespread that it doubtless caused numerous disorders identified as something else, especially by the doctors who prescribed it. (Badham even prescribed calomel in “repeated doses” for his paralyzed patients.)

Teething powders also caused pink disease, a feature of which was sometimes paralysis. In “Pink Disease,” Charles Rocaz reports that “Karl Petren of Lund (Sweden) has suggested that pink disease is due to chronic arsenical intoxication. … Nervous manifestations occur in the form of paresis [paralysis] of the lower limbs with pain, tingling and burning of the hands and feet.”[xlv]

So a number of outbreaks might be explained by exposures to metals, including earlier pesticides and other products and medicines containing arsenic. The arsenic-containing Paris Green was originally a pigment and was used in wallpaper as early as 1814.

As for the larger Scandinavian clusters in the later 1880s, northern climes – think Campobello Island, Canada – are hospitable to berries. Also, apples are grown there and are part of the traditional cuisine. Keeping “worms” (actually codling moths, not gypsy moths) out of apples was something people were obviously concerned about for a long time before the war on gypsy moths provided the tools to fight codling moths.

But none of these reached the scale, or occurred with the frequency, of poliomyelitis outbreaks after 1893 and the invention of lead arsenate. This leads to the second test of our theory – once lead arsenate and DDT disappeared from the scene, why did poliomyelitis outbreaks continue, albeit in diminished fashion?

6.  After -- The Persistence of Polio.

To summarize our theory: Polio is a virus, contagious like all viruses, and generally a harmless enterovirus. When it is introduced into the human body, it has the capacity to enter the nervous system when nerves are damaged. Damage can occur many ways: mechanically through needle puncture or surgery, or, we propose, biochemically via pesticidal or other toxic exposure. Once the virus enters the nervous system, it becomes dangerous in a way nature never allowed before. It spreads through the nervous system via "retrograde axonal transport." The resulting damage can lead to paralysis or death.  

Two regions of the world continue to experience polio outbreaks, despite hopes the virus would be eradicated by 2000. This persistence has surprised and confused the experts.

“The eradication campaign has been stalled from about 2002 to 2007 … Why is it so difficult to complete the global eradication of wild poliovirus?” asked Neal Nathanson of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in a 2008 medical review, “The Pathogenesis of Poliomyelitis: What We Don’t Know.”[xlvi] (What we don’t know turns out to be a lot – the paper runs to 50 pages.)

“Currently, there are two epicenters that have resisted virus elimination, one in South Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan, northern India) and one in West Africa (centered in Nigeria). What explains the persistence of wild polioviruses in these two foci?”

Nathanson cites three possibilities: those are warm climates, so poliovirus doesn’t go dormant in the winter as it theoretically did in other countries; the prevalence of other enteroviruses means that the live-virus polio vaccine is not as effective because the other viruses interfere with it; and poor public health infrastructure couple with fears about vaccination made the achievement of “herd immunity” harder than expected.

If one considers the toxin idea, however, another explanation jumps out, especially in South Asia. Erase national borders for a moment. While outbreaks are small and have waxed and waned over the past decade, the primary sites have been directly south of the Himalayan range in a smiley-face arc that runs west from Nepal and Bangladesh, through the Northern India districts of West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, into Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Polio map 

This also happens to be the area with the worst mass poisoning from arsenic in human history. This is not ancient history – it didn’t even begin until the 1980s. It is a story of the single-minded war against microbes gone badly wrong. What happened is beautifully outlined in an American Scientist article, “No one checked: Natural Arsenic in Wells.”[xlvii]

“The wells that now supply the people's drinking water are sealed from bacterial contamination; their tight concrete tubes reach down 60 feet or more, past surface contamination,” write Phillip and Phylis Morrison. “The big investment in concrete wells, originally made by UNICEF and the World Bank, has beaten back diarrheal diseases, making a real contribution to the vigor and quality of life of the people here.”

But what no one checked was the possibility of another kind of contamination: the wells tapped into the deeper water table and pulled up arsenic that had been swept down the Himalayan watershed by the Ganges and Indus Rivers, both of which drain both slopes of the mighty range.

And that proved to be a catastrophic failure. “A new calamity as astonishing as it is threatening confronts the country people of the Bengal Basin,” the Morrisons write – a calamity that has continued to spread through India and westward. “The drinking water, though sealed from infection, can hold a chronic dose of invisible, tasteless, odor-free dissolved arsenic. … That trace presence is a public poison.”

In Bangladesh alone, the World Health Organization calls arsenic contamination of drinking water “the largest mass poisoning of a population in history” (an eerie echo of Biskind calling DDT use “the most intensive campaign of mass poisoning in human history”). In focusing solely on microbes, in failing understand the ecology they were tapping into, public health experts failed in their due diligence – “no one checked,” and so they simply missed the risk from the toxin. In a deep and disturbing irony, we believe that this arsenic exposure – born of a sincere but disastrously conceived effort to protect people from dangerous microbes -- has also led to the persistence of poliomyelitis.


On May 12, 2010, Bill Gates boarded a boat in the city of Patna, on the Ganges River in the Indian province of Bihar, and traveled 140 miles east to the small village of Guleria. He was there to personally take the Gates Foundation’s fight against polio into the heart of the beast. Bihar is “one of only two Indian States where new cases of polio continue to be reported, according to UNICEF. Uttar Pradesh is the other.”[xlviii]

This is also arsenic country. The districts on both sides of the Ganges, including Patna and Khagara, are among the 16 worst arsenic-affected districts in Bihar.[xlix] In neighboring Uttar Pradesh, “as many as 20 districts have alarmingly high arsenic content in the groundwater and the state government is at its wits end.”[l]

The consequences include lesions on the hands and feet, intestinal problems, and cancer that can kill. In India, “the spread of arsenic contamination in groundwater seems to be assuming gargantuan proportions,” reported Current Science in 2005. “What is worse is that inhabitants of the affected areas are unaware and the local authorities totally oblivious to this grave problem. It was known that West Bengal (WB) and Bangladesh had high levels of arsenic in the groundwater, but slowly the problem is spreading to other states like Uttar Pradesh. This is confirmed by the reports of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi that people living in the Ballia district of UP also have high levels of arsenic in their blood, hair, nails, etc.”[li]

This convergence has totally escaped the polio fighters, just as the arsenic risk from deeper wells escaped the planners (ironically, those planners include the same World Health Organization now combating poliomyelitis there). “Most parts of India are polio free. Of the 35 states and Union Territories, 33 have stopped indigenous polio virus transmission. Only Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar remain endemic for polio virus because of the uniquely challenging conditions like poor environmental sanitation, high population density, high birth rate which make them the most challenging places on earth to eradicate polio.”[lii]

But do those factors really make the two areas “unique” in all India? And why does the polio arc sweep across the same arsenic-poisoned swath of neighboring countries?


At the proverbial 30,000-foot level – Himalayan height, as it happens -- the theory makes sense. But it also holds up on the ground. District by district, city by city, the dots connect.

-- In West Bengal, Howrah District was singled out for high arsenic contamination[liii] – and polio. A case of poliovirus reported there in April “has shocked the World Health Organization, UNICELF, Rotary International and the government itself.”[liv]

-- In Pakistan, “Another polio case in Muzaffargarh”[lv] coincides with the fact that “arsenic was recently found in Pakistan, in and around Muzaffargarh on the south-western edge of the Punjab.”[lvi]

-- In Afghanistan, half a million people are potentially at risk from arsenic poisoning, and the country is one of four where poliovirus remains endemic.

Why, given the arsenic disaster in Bangladesh, are there no recent polio cases there? It appears the virus has been wiped out. “Concerted efforts to eradicate polio in Bangladesh, resulted in the country being declared polio free in August 2000.” [lvii]

Arsenic abatement also has been attacked most aggressively in Bangladesh, where the problem first surfaced. “In Bangladesh and West Bengal, at present less people are drinking arsenic contaminated water due to growing awareness and access to arsenic safe water. But no doubt the problem would not have attained such gravity, if it were not ignored for quite a long time. Unfortunately today similar mistakes are being repeated in Bihar, UP, Jharkhand, and Assam where still the villagers are drinking contaminated water. Non recognition of truth continues.”[lviii]

Indeed it does. Polio outbreaks, we believe, are persisting today for the same reason they arose. South Asia is simply a place where toxic interactions are triggering outbreaks that highlight the presence of the virus, like Luminol bringing out hidden blood splatters at a crime scene.

That would seem to spell trouble for programs guided by the belief that going after polio outbreaks will eradicate the virus – despite the vast resources currently being thrown at the effort.

On January 31, Bill Gates spoke at the Roosevelt House in Manhattan – “Bill Gates Channels Franklin Roosevelt,” as one news service put it -- where FDR recuperated after being stricken at Campobello. Gates said his foundation is making polio eradication its top priority because “it is the thing we can do to most improve the human condition.” He set a goal of 2013 but said, “Eradication is not guaranteed. It requires campaigns to give polio vaccine to all children under 5 in poor countries, at a cost of almost $1 billion per year.” [lix]

Polio eradication itself is a controversial priority. Bill Gate’s own vanity – a heroic effort to make as big an impact on the technological destruction of disease as he did on the technology of computer software – has driven his poliovirus campaign, but many public health advocates grumble that it’s a low priority. Millions die every year from preventable diseases ranging from pneumonia to diarrhea.

“As Bill Gates presses forward in a costly mission to eliminate the disease, some eradication experts and bioethicists ask if it’s right to keep trying,” reported The New York Times in February 2011. “As new outbreaks create new setbacks each year, he has given ever more money, not only for research but for the grinding work on the ground.”

“We ought to admit that the best we can achieve is control,” argued Arthur L. Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania bioethics center, who had polio as a child. Gates calls his critics “cynics” who are “accepting 100,000 to 200,000 crippled or dead children a year” if polio resurges.

We believe a more cost-effective way to reduce and contain poliomyelitis outbreaks – as well as improve total health outcomes -- would be an all-out effort to reduce arsenic contamination and make sure people in South Asia have safe drinking water.

7. “Where was God?” -- Lessons learned and lost.

What, then, is the natural history of polio telling us? Beyond the lessons for containing polio outbreaks themselves, we suggest that a single-minded focus on germs – and an unwillingness to explore novel and potentially uncomfortable ideas from outside medical orthodoxy – is an inadequate strategy when it comes to modern diseases.

It’s hard to overstate the impact the polio experience has had on our modern medical culture, starting with the doctors who watched helplessly as its victims fell. J.R. Paul, in his definitive A History of Poliomyelitis, wrote how “the flowering of scientific medicine brought a new point of view, an era of sudden and incredible hope that something might be done after all.”

For a generation of medical professionals born in the heart of this period, the heroic conquest of poliomyelitis was among the most influential narratives that shaped their beliefs about medicine. These beliefs go far beyond science, as Paul suggests. “As the crusade heightened, the world looked on expectantly. … Much as our grandparents had contributed during the nineteenth century to missionary societies, our dimes and dollars went to another ‘religious’ cause, signalized by efforts to stamp out this pestilence and to alleviate the suffering and tragedy it inflicted.”

Paul leaves no doubt as to the hero of this new religious crusade. “[I]n due time, the disease was abruptly scotched by means of vaccination. It was to all intents and purposes finished. The crusade has been described as one of the greatest technical and humanistic triumphs of the age. It was one of those rare achievements which the world greeted as an example of what could be done when science and technology were directed to good use for mankind.”[lx]


But the victory over the epidemics of poliomyelitis means our understanding of polio is essentially frozen in amber, circa 1955. Few diseases have been so completely conquered, at least at home, while being so incompletely understood, and that is not a good outcome. In leaving so many important topics on the table – why outbreaks occurred, why the pattern of contagion was so atypical for an infectious disease – scientists allowed some weak ideas to become conventional wisdom and some important ones to be missed.

The prevailing current explanation for the rise of poliomyelitis outbreaks is the “hygiene hypothesis,” which posits that such simple steps as clean underwear, better sanitation and good housekeeping, along with less exposure to germs like polio in early infancy, meant the effects of disease became much worse when children were finally exposed. This is not a satisfactory explanation, and it never has been – the epicenter of the 1916 epidemic was placed in possibly the filthiest place in Brooklyn, an Italian immigrant community evocatively called Pigtown. And hygiene certainly doesn’t work very well to explain polio’s persistence among the world’s poorest, where sanitation is bad and public health infrastructure is close to nonexistent.  (“One injection stops smallpox, The Times noted in its article of Gates’ polio drive, “but in countries with open sewers, children need 10 polio (vaccine) drops up to 10 times.”)

Yet those ideas have spread and now are used to explain other ailments that are likely also mostly environmental, such as asthma (hygiene hypothesis: because children no longer tumble around in the barnyard with farm animals, they are less likely to be exposed … etc.).

And the connection of other illnesses to pesticides, and environmental toxins in general, has been slow in dawning, though it is now becoming clear that a range of degenerative and neurological diseases are related to such exposures.

“In a new epidemiological study of Central Valley residents who have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, researchers found that years of exposure to the combination of … two pesticides increased the risk of Parkinson's by 75 percent,” reports Science Daily.

The Central Valley was also the setting for a study that found “women who live near California farm fields sprayed with organochlorine pesticides may be more likely to give birth to children with autism, according to a study by state health officials,” reported the Los Angeles Times.[lxi]

“The rate of autism among the children of 29 women who lived near the fields was extremely high, suggesting that exposure to the insecticides in the womb might have played a role.” The findings echoes those from a 2005 study in Italy “pesticides known as organophosphates could cause neurological changes that lead to autism.”

Recall that the San Joaquin Valley, the Southern Half of the Central Valley of California, was the site of an 1890s outbreak of poliomyelitis, along with nearby San Francisco, Napa Valley, and other agricultural hubs. If mainstream scientists had made this connection between polio and pesticides a century ago – or even after the great epidemics ended in the 1950s – would pesticide use have continued in the same fashion, endangering great-great grandchildren of the first polio generation? Church bells might not have rung for this discovery, but the toll on later generations could have been greatly reduced.


Nor has the polio vaccine, for all of its efficacy, been a risk-free remedy. There were accidents and deaths from the beginning – starting with the Cutter incident in the first weeks of the mass vaccine campaign, in which tainted shots paralyzed dozens of children and killed five.[lxii] There is ongoing debate about whether a cancer-causing monkey virus, SV-40, infected millions of doses of vaccine in the 1960s and may be causing cancers today.[lxiii] There is the theory that mass vaccine trials in Africa in the 1950s gave rise to the AIDS epidemic – an idea that has been dismissed and derided by the medical industry with the same religious disregard for inconvenient truths as we’ve seen in other man-made epidemics.[lxiv]

And the live virus vaccine now in use in South Asia and Africa indisputably spreads the virus and, in a small percentage of case, causes poliomyelitis. For that reason alone, vaccination may perpetuate polio in the service of eradicating it.  The vaccine strain also can and does mutate. (“Polio spreads fast in Nigeria after rare mutation,” reads a 2009 headline.)[lxv] The only thing better than ending polio epidemics, in short, would have been not causing them in the first place. The real polio narrative is an American tragedy as much as the triumph of scientific medicine.


Yet triumphalism is an ongoing legacy of The Age of Polio. Merely invoking the word today can shut down debate over public health, especially concerns over any aspect of vaccination policy. Asked during the presidential campaign of 2008 whether he favored vaccination choice, Barack Obama responded: “I believe that it will bring back deadly diseases, like polio."[lxvi]

In a similar vein, a commenter on our blog who identified herself as Kim asked, “What would you like us to do? Let's stop all immunizations. Guess what will happen? Measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, polio, influenza will all come back. We will now not only have people scarred from the diseases, but so many people dying. People do not remember when people actually died from these diseases because they have been literally obliterated from the industrial nations.

“I would give just about anything to have a grandmother, but she died from polio when my mother was 17 months old. I have empathy for those with autistic children, but we have gotten so focused on immunizations that we do not look at any other causes. So the next time you hug your child remember my mother who cannot remember any hugs from her mother. Be thankful you have a child to hug.”

In offering our new narrative, we recognize the very real suffering over a very long time. In 1916, the year of the epochal Northeastern epidemic, a New Jersey nurse named Charlotte Talley wrote an article for The American Journal of Nursing with the antiseptic title, “Tracing the Sources and Limiting the Spread of Infantile Paralysis.”[lxvii] But her descriptions were deeply empathetic:

“’Blease, blease, do something,’ pleaded a Polish mother hysterically, clasping her hands in supplication, her mouth quivering. ‘They took my boy to ‘ospital and see,’ showing the bathtub full of soiled clothing, ‘here are all the clothes from the sickness and no water to wash ‘em. Landlady said she get plumber today. She gets no one.’”

The epidemic turned health workers into bystanders to despair.

“A little girl of nine had died of paralysis after a few days of great suffering. She had been a beautiful, bright, lovable child, the pride of the household,” Talley wrote. Apparently, despite all her parents’ precautions, she had played with a neighbor child with an inapparent infection and may have been exposed to the virus that way.

“Where was God?” asked Talley. “It is difficult to understand how such things are permitted by Providence to occur. Evidently human intelligence is expected to work out this serious problem in order to prevent such disasters.”

The suffering of polio’s victims is honored by learning all of its lessons, including the danger of environmental toxins and the perils of ignoring their role in modern disease; the risk of focusing all of our energy on vaccinations as magic bullets, and the fundamental ethical obligation to search for the truth without fear or favor. Only then can we work out the real nature of illnesses that confront us here and now, ranging from autism to Parkinson’s to the persistence of poliomyelitis itself. Only then can we begin to prevent such disasters as The Age of Polio.


Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill are co-authors of The Age of Autism – Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic, published in paperback in September by Thomas Dunne Books. Olmsted is Editor, and Blaxill is Editor at Large, of


[i] B. Trevelyan, M. Smallman-Raynor, Andrew D. Cliff, “The Spatial Dynamics of Poliomyelitis in the United States: From Epidemic Emergence to Vaccine-Induced Retreat, 1910-1971.” Ann Assoc Am Geogr., June 2005; 95(2): 269–293.

[ii] “Famous People Who Had Polio,” Post-Polio Resource Group.

[iii] Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill, The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic. (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2010).

[iv] H.V. Wyatt, “Provocation Poliomyelitis: Neglected Clinical Observations from 1914 to 1950.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 55:4 (1981:Winter), p 543

[v] Peter M. Strebel, et al. "Intramuscular injections within 30 days of immunization with oral poliovirus vaccine -- a risk factor for vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis." New England J of Med (February 23, 1995), pp. 500-506.

[vi] “Medicine: Tonsils & Bulbar Polio,” Time, April 12, 1954.,9171,823341,00.html

[vii] Jim West, “Images of Poliomyelitis – A Critique of Scientific Literature,”

[viii] Janine Roberts, “Polio Research Resources,”

[ix] David M. Oshinsky. Polio: An American Story. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005). p 62.

[x] Robert J. Spear, The Great Gypsy Moth War (Amherst, University of Massachusetts Press, 2005), p. 14.

[xi] G.H. Perkins, “Report of the Entomologist,” in Seventh Annual Report of the Vermont Agricultural Experiment Station, 1893. St. Alban’s, Vermont: St. Alban’s Messenger Co., 1894. 124-124.

[xii] James J. Putnam, M.D., and Edward Wyllys Taylor, M.D. “Is Acute Poliomyelitis Unusually Prevalent This Season?” Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Vol. CXXIX, No. 21, November 23, 1893.

[xiii] Samuel L. Katz, M.D. “The Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Address,” May 6, 2003, Arlington, Va.

[xiv] C.S. Caverly. “History of an Acute Nervous Disease of Unusual Type.” Medical Record, Volume 46, No. 22, Dec. 1, 1894.

[xv] C.S. Caverly. “Notes of an Epidemic of Severe Anterior Poliomyelitis.” The Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. XXVI, No. 1, January 4, 1896.

[xvi] “EPA proposing to revoke tolerances for calcium arsenate and lead arsenate.” Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Pesticide Management Education Program, 1986.

[xvii] S.E. Henschen. “On Arsenical Paralysis,” Presented to the Royal Society of Sciences of Upsala, Sweden, September 30, 1893.

[xviii] H.A. Waldron, “Lead Poisoning in the Ancient World,” Med Hist. 1973 October; 17(4): 391–399.

[xix] Jerome O. Nriagu, Lead and Lead Poisoning in Antiquity, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1983.

[xx] James J. Putnam. “The Injuriousness of Arsenic as a Domestic Poison,” J Am Med Assoc. 1891;XVI(22):778-781.

[xxi] J.W. Kalkus, “Orchard Horse Disease.” American Journal of Veterinary Medicine. Volume XV, No. 4, April 1920.

[xxii] “Jacolyn Van Vliet Manning, The Correlation of Epidemic Paralysis in Animal and Man,” The Medical Times, May 1912.

[xxiii] Henry W. Frauenthal, A Manual of Infantile Paralysis, With Modern Methods of Treatment. Philadelphia: Davis, 1914.

[xxiv] Frank W. Rane, Annual Report, State Forester of Massachusetts, 1911. Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Company, State Printers, 1911.

[xxv] Feilding Star, Feilding, New Zealand, November 25, 1914, page 2.

[xxvi] Op. cit

[xxvii] James V. Paige, D.V.S , “Cattle poisoning from arsenate of lead,” Bulletin: Issues 120-131, Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station, 1909, p 184

[xxviii] “Results of Feeding Lead Arsenate and White Arsenic to Guinea Pigs,” New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station, Bulletin 183, in Economic Entomology, Pamphlets: Volume 116, June 1917.

[xxix] Rachel Carson, Silent Spring. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1962.

[xxx] A particularly thorough account, which ours relies on, is in Kenneth S. Davis, FDR: The Beckoning of Destiny, 1882-1928. History Book Club: 2004.

[xxxi] A.S. Goldman, E.J. Schmalstieg, D.H. Freeman et al. "What was the cause of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's paralytic illness?" J Med Biogr. 2003 Nov;11(4):232-40.

[xxxii] Elliott Roosevelt and James Brough, An Untold Story – The Roosevelts of Hyde Park, Dell Publishing, 1974.

[xxxiii] Henrietta Nesbitt, White House Diary, Frazer Press, 2007.


[xxxv] Life, August 15, 1949.

[xxxvi] Morton S. Biskind, M.D., and Irving Bieber, M.D., “DDT Poisoning – A New Syndrome With Neuropsychiatric Manifestations,” American Journal of Psychotherapy, 1949, p. 261

[xxxvii] Morris S. Biskind, M.D., “Statement on Clinical Intoxication From DDT and Other New Insecticides, Presented before the Select Committee to Investigate the Use of Chemicals in Food Products, United States House of Representatives, December 12, 1950.” Journal of Insurance Medicine, May 1951.

[xxxviii] Ralph R. Scobey, M.D., “The Poison Cause of Poliomyelitis and Obstructions To Its Investigation, Statement Prepared for the Select Committee to Investigate the Use of Chemicals in Food Products, United States House of Representatives,” April 1952, published in Pediatrics, April 1952.

[xxxix]Morton S. Biskind, M.D. “Public Health Aspects of the new insecticides.” Am J Dig Dis. 1953 Nov;20(11):331-41.

[xl] John Ruhrah and Erwin E. Mayer, Poliomyelitis in all its aspects, New York: Lea and Febiger, 1917.“Poliomyelitis+In+All+Its+Aspects,”++by+John+Ruhrah+%22comparatively+recent+origin%22&source=bl&ots=pWgHwrHQ12&sig=mVT7B3Ie43RSs0GLyN4fEXbRbR0&hl=en&ei=aLlvTtviBuqOsALU_c29CQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CBcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

[xli] J.R. Paul. A History of Poliomyelitis. Yale studies in the history of science and medicine. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, 1970.

[xlii] Michael Underwood, “Debility of the lower extremities,” A treatise on the diseases of children, with general direction for the management of infants from birth, 1789.

[xliii] T.G. Hull, “A Graphical Study of the Epidemiology of Poliomyelitis.” The American Journal of Public Health. xx

[xliv] Walter Scott, for example, was described as suffering from "a severe teething fever which deprived him of the power of his right leg."

[xlv] Charles Rocaz, Pink Disease (Infantile Acrodynia) (London: Martin Hopkinson Ltd., 1933).

[xlvi] Neal Nathanson, “The Pathogenesis of Poliomyelitis – What We Don’t Know.” Advances in Virus Research, Volume 71, 2008.

[xlvii] Philip and Phylis Morrison, “Natural Arsenic in Wells: No One Checked,” American Scientist, Volume 90, March-April 2002.

[xlviii] The Associated Press, “Bill Gates checks on polio progress in India,” May 12, 2010.

[xlix] Dr. Ashok Ghosh, “Arsenic Contamination of Ground Water in Bihar, India, slide presentation,” A.N. College, Patna. See slide 16 for extent of arsenic poisoning along Ganges in Bihar.

[l] India News Service, “20 Uttar Pradesh Districts Have High Arsenic in Groundwater,” March 7, 2008.

[li]“Arsenic – India’s health crisis attracting global attention,” Current Science, Vol. 88 No. 5, March 10, 2005.

[lii] Uttar Pradesh State Report,

[liii]“Groundwater arsenic contamination status of Howrah district, one of the nine arsenic affected districts of West Bengal-India.” School of Environmental Studies, Jadavpur University.

[liv] "Polio Breaks in West Bengal AGAIN!” April 16, 2011,

[lv] “Another polio case in Muzaffargarh,”, November 27, 2009.

[lvi]“Pakistan: Arsenic threat to drinking water spreads.” WASH News and Features, February 11, 2005.

[lvii] “Polio eradication in Bangladesh.” The Newsletter of the Regional Office for South-East Asia, World Health Organization,

[lviii]“Worsening Arsenic contamination in Bihar: another Bengal delta calamity in the making?”

[lix] Jason Gale and Michael Waldholz, “Bill Gates Channels Franklin Roosevelt in Push to Eradicate Global Polio,” Bloomberg News, January 31, 2011.

[lx] Paul, op cit., p xiii

[lxi] Marla Cone, “Pesticide Link to Autism Suspected.” Los Angeles Times, July 30, 2007.

[lxii] The Cutter Incident.

[lxiii] Debbie Bookchin and Jim Schumacher, The Virus and the Vaccine: Contaminated Vaccine, Deadly Cancers, and Government Neglect. New York: St. Martin’s-Griffin, 2005.

[lxiv] Edward Hooper and Bill Hamilton. The River: A Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS. (New York: Back Bay Books: 2000).

[lxv] “Polio spreads fast in Nigeria after rare mutation,” Digital Journal. August 16, 2009.

[lxvi] Claudine Liss. “Obama: I am not for selective vaccination.” Age of Autism. September 8, 2008.

[lxvii] Charlotte Talley, “Tracing the Sources and Limiting the Spread of Infantile Paralysis,” The American Journal of Nursing, Volume 17, Number 2, November 1916.

Posted by Age of Autism at February 28, 2014 at 5:28 AM in Dan Olmsted, Dan Olmsted , Mark Blaxill | Permalink  | Comments (5)