The Age of Polio: How an Old Virus and New Toxins Triggered a Man-made Epidemic -- Part 3, Making Sense of Campobello
Let's Really Talk about XMRV and Autism

The Age of Polio: How an Old Virus and New Toxins Created a Man-made Epidemic -- Part 4, Post-War Epidemics and the Triumph of Vaccination

Polio triumph Read Part 3, Making Sense of Campobello; Part 2, A Gypsy Moth Flaps its Wings and Part 1, The Wrong Narrative.

By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill

Life magazine for August 15, 1949, reflected the booming exuberance of the times. The cover, “How 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.[i] Life 49

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.[ii]

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.[iii] 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,”[iv] 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.[v]

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?

(Next: Before)


Dan Olmsted is Editor and Mark Blaxill is Editor-At-Large of Age of Autism. They are co-authors of The Age of Autism -- Mercury, Medicine and a Man-made Epidemic.


[i] Life, August 15, 1949.

[ii] 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

[iii] 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.

[iv] 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.

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


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Is the activated alumina mentioned in this article similar or the same as aluminum in vaccines? If yes, would I be interpreting this correctly that aluminum binds readily to arsenic and so it would make a successful water filter/treatment to remove arsenic in water?

If so, does this imply that a child who has had vaccine(s) with aluminum in it and didn't have an immune system that could clear it, due to chemical bonding affinities, would end up also having an unbearably high body burden of arsenic if they eat foods with arsenic in them or on them? (conventionally raised chicken, apple trees sprayed w/arsenic poisons, contaminated water) and that maybe the symptoms of the combination would/could look like polio?


Paris Green was also widely used (against mosquitoes/malaria) before DDT ...?



They have renamed pertussis. After the pertussis and diphtheria vaccine was introduced (with the expectation that it would pretty much eradicate respiratory tract infections) all of a sudden a brand new disease (respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)) was "discovered" (in 1956). In addition doctors would start diagnosing severe croup or tonsillitis in the vaccinated (for diphtheria and pertussis).

Incidentally RSV is responsible for more hospitalisations of children than anything else (2-3 per cent of under 5s will be hospitalised with it at some stage).

In addition, measles was renamed roseola (and other types of rash); Hib meningitis became other forms of bacterial meningitis; hepatitis became Hep B, C, D etc. And of course the biggy - small pox became other forms of severe pox (so much so that doctors started telling parents to vaccinate against the 'deadly' chicken pox. Chicken pox was - by definition - a harmless variant of pox until the small pox vaccine came along.

The entire idea of vaccines is a sham. They don't work and never have.

Hilary Butler

Another thing you need to look at is the medical literature dealing with the fact that up until the Francis Trials, everything that looked like polio, was called polio, because polio was such a hard disease to diagnose clearly.

Once it because blatantly obvious that vaccinated people were getting "polio" and scientists looked much closer, they discovered that coxsackie B, entero and echoviruses could also cause "polio" as well. It was for that reason that redefinition of polio started in 1955, and added into the definition was the requirement of PROOF of polio virus. Anything else found, meant the paralysis was diagnosed as something else, which continues to this day.

Where are all the kids on "iron lungs" now? Oh they are there alright, but they are diagnosed as Transverse myelitis. See the doctor's forward in Nakazawa's book called The autoimmune epidemic, where he inadvertently lets the cat out of the bag. In the old days, they could get away with this, becuase no viral proof was required....

You just have to read Melnick 54 to see how hit and miss diagnosis was before the SALK vaccine was used, and how that changed part of the face of diagnoses forever. No virus, not polio, even if paralysis. Not polio, if virus, IF paralysis disappears before 60 days.

and whereas before, most aseptic meningitis was diagnosed as polio later it was not. And prior to 1954, because the medical profession simply wanted to isolate cases, everyone they thought might have it, was classified as having it, in order to justify isolation.

Masterful goal post shifting all around, which then finally got "scientific" after 1955, but only because the intent was to protect a vaccine which wasn't working.

and if someone had mentioned "this" to SALK I'm sure he would have had a fit.

HIlary Butler

You ask two questions:
Infantile paralysis occurred before lead arsenate was invented in 1893. How do we explain that?

Simple. Study the use of arsenic in the form of "Scheele’s green", "Schweinfurt green" and "Paris Green" which was widespread in households and even food before women got fed up, banded together and got it banned. (There is plenty of medical evidence to prove that.)

Then the (ignorant) men, decided that arsenic such a plentiful toxic compound, in vast quantities as a waste byproduct of the smelting industry, was too good to waste so converted it into another "industry" (pesticides) which included not just Lead Arsenate, but all the other arsenates as well - calcium arsenate, copper arsenate....

I suggest you find copies of various gardening handbooks from 1900 - 1960, then you will know what you are talking about.

You ask "And what about polio outbreaks that have continued in the absence of either lead arsenate or DDT pesticides? Do they fit our new narrative?"

Please note that you can walk into a food store in India, pakistan and Bangladesh and buy DDT, DE and other banned sprays right alone with your rice. A friend of mine had her three year old daughter sprayed without permision on a street in Mumbai in March, and on enquiry was told that it was now government policy to DDT spray all children.

And they wonder why Indian children who are vaccinated every time they turn around, and have usually had 24 doses by the age of four, are still gettting polio. Oh sorry. They've no rediagnosed that as AFP.

there are plenty of medical articles about AFP following the use of modern pesticides, but whereas in the old days, that would be classified as polio, now it's AFP.

RE the polio vaccine in USA. If you guys have not read HR 10541 from your Library of Congress, I suggest you do so.

There are also a lot of other dots you have overlooked, and until you collect all the jigsaw puzzles you might find yourself scratching your heads when you look back, that you missed stuff which is blindingly obvious when you possess most of the available jigsaw pieces.

You didn't search the New Zealand material very well, partly because you needed to use different search terms, but mainly because the most valuable information won't be found at the end of a mouse.

Some of the best answers you have overlooked are to be found in the early articles of both SALK and SABIN, who accurately described what they were seeing, but were strangly blind as to the cause, and clearly couldn't see what was staring them in the face.

If you've not read JR Paul's book, "The History of Poliomyelitis" you need to. And if you've not read Elizabeth Kenny's book, including the textbooks co-written with an American professor, you need to.

Susceptibility factors: You also need to read the medical articles and books by Dr Benjamin Sandler, and some of Sabin's early observations.

Provocation issues; your coverage of this was too scant. Provocation wasn't just at the end of a needle. Indeed, Thalidomide was a known "provocation agent". It could also be argued that agricultural sprays were a "provocation agent".

Tonsillectomy is a major predisposing factor for polio, and it's no coincident that the height of polio was reached around the time that every year the same numbers of childre, as each birth cohort, were providing needless bread and butter billions of dollars for the surgery industry. Furthermore, susceptibility to polio after tonsillectomy is not transient, but permanent. The needlessness of routine tonsillectomy was brought to the fore by the polio epidemic, but is another skeleton hiding, waiting for someone to write about it.

Formula. SABIN made the observation that breastmilk had a potent antiviral "something" in it, and you didn't see polio in breastfed babies. But given that the paediatric fraternity had got into the brains of mothers and convinced them that anything other than "approved feeding" via a measurable quantity in a glass bottle with a rubber teat, was child neglect and grossly inferior. After all, we can't measure what comes out of a boob.

Genetic susceptibility. You need to access from medical libraries everything written by HV Wyatt. If you don't, you will miss a major part of the puzzle. He deals with both genetics and provocation.

Then research anything by N Nathanson, starting with "The epidemiology of poliomyelitis: enigmas surrounding its appearance, epidemicity, and disappearance."

If you stop now, and do a bit more research, you might be better aware of more complete and more accurate linkages than you are currently assuming.

By 1958, less than 36% of the american population had received SALK vaccine, and by 1962, less than 38% of under-fives were vaccinated with any polio vaccine... so if you're going to attribute polio's decline in USA, to vaccines, you had better have a good reason. I am confident that if you do more thorough research, you will retract that statement.


Dan and Mark -

I think you guys are heading the wrong way:
- There's clear evidence that the Salk vaccine didn't work.
- There's clear evidence the reporting of polio cases was changed after the Salk vaccine was introduced.
(this for starters)

I can send you the evidence regarding Israel. I'm sure you can find the US evidence yourself.

Ask yourself this: if the Salk vaccine was so good - why was it replaced in a hurry with Sabin's? The original Pertussis vaccine - bad as it was - wasn't replaced for 50 years!
And here, a successful vaccine like Salk's is replaced after 6 years?! And people get vaccinated with Sabin's all over again?
This is a red flag.



I appreciate your balanced remark "The DDT theory, like the lead arsenate observation, failed because it wrongly dismissed the equally important role of the virus itself."

So,it would again be a question of co-factor . it let make me think of "Colony collapse disorder" and of the multiples researches made to find out why ( or even if ) bees were abruptly dying. I rapidly pick up this in Wikipedia :"This work suggests that a combination of environmental stressors may set off a cascade of events and contribute to a colony where weakened worker bees are more susceptible to pests and pathogens."I am not sure Wikipedia is - in this field as in others - always a reliable source . For example I read that some - by far not all - french studies found sound colonies with a very high virus load .Since big money had been poured into bee research , some interesting results might appear . True , humans are very differents from bees , but that could be of use .

The great French wine Blight (phylloxera ) was a starting point for pesticide use too .

I am looking forward to your next article , wondering if you might find something to say about Sweden were the first big epidemics are said to have appeared ! ( would mining residues account for that ?Too far-fetched /marginal ? )

P9fab9qaul Shapiro

Quote from paragraph 11 in the article:
“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.[v]
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."

De Ju Vue (spelling) all over again!!!!!!! Why do I get the feeling that I’m living this ‘movie’ all over again???


I keep wondering if the various paralytic "syndromes" we see today--Guillain-Barre syndrome, Lyme Disease, MS, and especially the "narcolepsy syndrome" seen after H1N1 shots--are actually forms of polio that are just undiagnosed as such.

After all, as soon as the polio vaccine was in widespread use, any patient who presented with symptoms consistent with paralytic polio was assumed to be automatically and inarguably immune to polio if they had had the vaccine. Other labels had to be invented, as no doctor in their right mind would bother to test for polio if the patient had already been vaccinated...

When you think about it, it's amazing that they haven't renamed pertussis (and come up with a new vaccine for it, too), since those vaccinated for pertussis should have had lifetime immunity, right? So it COULDN'T be pertussis, if you've been vaccinated for it...just like...polio....

Adam M

Thanks Mark and Dan for another great article with lots of new insight.
I do wonder about this though.

RE: 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.

Are you sure ? Phasing thimerosal out of some vaccines and reintroducing it in others while adding huge amounts of aluminum is an "elaborate scam" . Changing the diagnostic criteria of polio at the same time the vaccine was introduced ( sounds familiar doesn't it? ) would certainly exaggerate the effectiveness of the vaccine and help people forget that polio was decreasing rapidly for decades before the vaccine came around. See table 1 and figures 4 & 5 of link below.

I still think there's something to this. What exactly is the evidence against this view? Maybe I'm all wrong but show me.
Again, thanks for all you guys do for our community.



there is not much about toxins + poliovirus, but one study is very interesting, see this one:

“.... the replication of poliovirus was inhibited only by chlordane and malathion, whereas Kelthane and Karathane increased the virus yields 4 and 18 times, respectively, and DDT exhibited a slight stimulatory effect” J. Gabliks, STUDIES OF BIOLOGICALLY ACTIVE AGENTS IN CELL AND TISSUE CULTURES. PART 1, 1966

those findings were then published in the article here:, EFFECTS OF INSECTICIDES ON MAMMALIAN CELLS AND VIRUS INFECTIONS, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1969


"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."

I am curious what evidence you have found that make you completely dismiss this alternative explanation for the drop in cases after the vaccine was introduced? I have not thoroughly investigated the story, but I also haven't seen anything that makes me certain it is totally contrived, either. The reported changes in the way polio was diagnosed are troubling, if true, and reminiscent of the "interesting" way H1N1 flu cases were getting tallied in the midst of that recent medical "story" (as reported by Sharyl Attkisson).

Applying Occam's razor, I remain unconvinced that it is necessary to assume a synergy of a toxin and a virus, if the toxin alone is enough to explain the affliction. Certainly we can assume there are other factors beyond mere toxin exposure involved, or everyone exposed should have been affected--but I still question whether it is necessary or appropriate to assume the other factor is (was) the virus. It could have been level of exposure, level of exposure combined with nutritional status, level of exposure combined with some other toxin exposure, or ??? I think your explanation is intriguing and worth further exploration, but I continue to wonder about the idea that our essential understanding of viruses, retroviruses, etc. as disease agents might actually be incorrect.

Polluted ponds are often full of algae, and algae clogged ponds aren't healthy environments for some fish and other organisms, but algae are not the ultimate cause of the problems--if you catch my crude analogy...

Your search for truth and understanding is appreciated. There is much to better understand and we would all be further along in the search for truth if there were not so much money, dogma, and politics involved.

Jeannette Bishop

Thank you for this series with profound implications.

This part though, "The vaccine clearly eliminated outbreaks in the United States," is clear as mud for me, not that I know enough to argue, with any intelligence, but more specific information to counter the claims that stricter diagnostic criteria (longer periods of observation in clinical setting, etc.) instigated with the use of the vaccine account for much of the drop in case reports might be helpful.

I'm looking to more of this series.

kathy blanco

Possible responsibility for diseases such as AIDS, autism, sudden infant death syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome and mental illnesses is vehemently denied and those making such suggestions attacked. To a large measure, vaccine and vaccine-related research have become money-driven endeavors with emphasis on perception rather than reality. This unfortunate trend needs to be addressed with forthright discussions that involve both the public and independent researchers. *(Dr John Martin, who thinks SV40 can cause a whole lot of caca).

Paul Shapiro

Thank you Mark and Dan, for all your hard work. If the genius'that invent these poisons ever fess up you two will get a Nobel.

I remember my mother relating an old expression to my brother and me.
"Only a stupid bird fouls its own nest"


Dan, Mark, fantastic series! This has relevance to the current efforts to eradicate polio. I know that the use of DDT in countries with high malaria rates is being considered again for mosquito eradication. What a disaster that could be for polio!

I hope there will be something about DTP and polio in your series.

The News

Why Japan banned MMR vaccine

*Japan stopped using the MMR vaccine seven years ago

Government health chiefs claim a four-year experiment with it has had serious financial and human costs.

* 3,969 medical compensation claims relating to vaccines

* Up to 1000 claims measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

* MMR banned Japan in 1993 record number developed non-viral meningitis and other adverse reactions.

Official figures show there were 3 deaths while 8 children were left with permanent disability ranging from damaged hearing and blindness to loss of control of limbs.

The government reconsidered using MMR in 1999 but decided it was safer to keep the ban and continue using individual vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella.

The British Department of Health said Japan had used a type of MMR which included a strain of mumps vaccine that had particular problems and was discontinued in the UK because of safety concerns.

* one in every 900 children was experiencing problems.

* 2,000 times higher than the expected rate of one child in every 100,000 to 200,000.

* The ministry switched to another MMR vaccine in October 1991 but the incidence was still high with one in 1,755 children affected.

Tests on the spinal fluid of 125 children affected were carried out to see if the vaccine had got into the children’s nervous systems. They found one confirmed case and two further suspected cases.

Dr Hiroki Nakatani, director of the Infectious Disease Division at Japan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare said that giving individual vaccines cost twice as much as MMR ‘but we believe it is worth it’.

However, he admitted the MMR scare has left its mark. With vaccination rates low, there have been measles outbreaks which have claimed 94 lives in the last five years.

That scare was because of the dangers of urabe strain measles MMR Not whistleblowers.

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