The Age of Polio: How an Old Virus and New Toxins Created a Man-made Epidemic -- Part 7, “Where was God?” Lessons learned and lost.
Read Part 6, Part 5, Part 4, Part 3, Part 2 and Part 1.
By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
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.”[i]
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 The Bronx, 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.[ii]
“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.[iii][iii] 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.[iv] 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.[v]
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.)[vi] 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."[vii]
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.”[viii] 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.
(This is the last in a series, which will be published as one article on Wednesday.)
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 ageofautism.com.
[i] Paul, op cit., p xiii
[ii] Marla Cone, “Pesticide Link to Autism Suspected.” Los Angeles Times, July 30, 2007. http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jul/30/local/me-autism30
[iii] The Cutter Incident. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cutter_Laboratories#The_Cutter_incident
[iv] Debbie Bookchin and Jim Schumacher, The Virus and the Vaccine: Contaminated Vaccine, Deadly Cancers, and Government Neglect. New York: St. Martin’s-Griffin, 2005.
[v] Edward Hooper and Bill Hamilton. The River: A Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS. (New York: Back Bay Books: 2000).
[vi] “Polio spreads fast in Nigeria after rare mutation,” Digital Journal. August 16, 2009. http://digitaljournal.com/article/277700
[vii] Claudine Liss. “Obama: I am not for selective vaccination.” Age of Autism. September 8, 2008. http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/09/obama-i-am-not.html
[viii] Charlotte Talley, “Tracing the Sources and Limiting the Spread of Infantile Paralysis,” The American Journal of Nursing, Volume 17, Number 2, November 1916.
Mark and Dan:
I think you have made an enormous contribution to the question of what interactions may exist between chemicals and pathogens. Thank you for your extraordinary work!
All the best,
Posted by: Kent Heckenlively | September 28, 2011 at 05:57 PM
Well investigated, gentlemen.
Until all the co-factors can be exhaustively researched (there's a Ph.D. degree in this for someone), it seems obvious that the best defense is the least toxic:
* healthy diet & environment (enhanced immune system); and
* High dosages of vitamin C (Dr. Fred Klenner) and low sugar (Benjamin Sandler)
Posted by: Stan | September 28, 2011 at 05:57 PM
It's interesting to see how simplistic the commonly advanced theories about polio are. It's as if the powers that be have never heard of synergy. It's as if only one thing can cause illness, and any other factors are not important. It seems only double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have to consider confounding factors.
If only toxicology were studied more extensively in medical school. But that subject is not ranked very highly. Physicians are not supposed to know how to poison their patients.
But because the understanding about the connection between polio and illness is not simple, it's ignored.
I hope someone is going to the trouble and find the most likely suspect(s) of interaction between the polio virus and the likely toxin.
Posted by: Birgit Calhoun | September 28, 2011 at 05:15 PM
Cassandra - there are dozens of honest books about the genesis of "AIDS" and the best is INVENTING THE AIDS VIRUS by Peter Duesberg in 1996, available from most every public library or via Amazon. None of Duesberg's analyses and positions have ever been found wrong, including his papers published by the National Academy of Science.
Also, extremely extensive review (censored by mainstream media) of the invention of AIDS is also easily found on the Perth Group website.
In my view the fraud of AIDS in great part has paved the way for the fraud of our mindless Vaccine Era that is now far more destructive, ruinous, tragic, and lethal - one giant Lie on the heels of other giant Lies.
Posted by: david burd | September 28, 2011 at 08:36 AM
Gentlemen- thank you. In the real world, Pulitzer stuff. However, since the Pulitzer is a measure of conventional establishment values, I wouldn't expect them to come a 'knockin'.
Check out this VAERS Report- seems like an obvious, outright fake, designed literally to undermine VAERS in case that become necessary. Read especially the "write up." Forewarned (VAERS is being deliberately bent)is forearmed:
VAERS ID: 318491 Vaccinated: 0000-00-00
Age: Onset: 0000-00-00
Gender: Female Submitted: 2008-07-07
Location: Unknown Entered: 2008-07-08, Days after submission: 1
Life Threatening Illness? Yes
Date died: 0000-00-00
ER or Doctor Visit? No
Other Medications: Unknown
Current Illness: Sulfonamide allergy
Diagnostic Lab Data: Unknown
CDC 'Split Type': WAES0806USA08737
HPV4 MERCK & CO. INC. 1 UN UN
Administered by: Other Purchased by: Other
Symptoms: Death, Hypersensitivity
SMQs:, Angioedema (broad)
Write-up: Information has been received from a physician who was told by a patient''s mother that a female patient with a sulfa allergy who on an unspecified date was vaccinated with a first dose of GARDASIL (lot number, injection site and route not reported), which was well tolerated. On an unspecified date, the patient was vaccinated with a second dose of GARDASIL (lot number, injection site and route not reported). Subsequently the patient died. The cause of death was reported as allergic reaction to GARDASIL. The physician stated that the patient who died was not her patient and she knew no further details. Follow-up information was received from the physician who reported that a other of one of her patients had said to her, that she "thought" she read this report on the internet. The physician asked the patient''s mother to find out where she read the report. The patient''s mother could not find the report and did not know where to locate the source information. Additional information has been requested.
Posted by: ottoschnaut | September 27, 2011 at 11:48 PM
What, then, is the natural history of polio telling us?
As in our day and age a mere sniffle is still immediately seized upon by government authorities (drug company reps embedded in government brass)for more stupid, liability-free vaccines.
As evidenced in the fact that Franklin Roosevelt, by symptoms never had Polio, he had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, yet, thanks to half-cocked systematic obfuscation not even a pretty definitive study, which found 75% of his medical history reveals a historically-wrong diagnosis, sees the light of day.
Shall we forget that the Combating Autism Act required the US CDC to stop counting Autism? Strange deed for the middle of an epidemic producing numbers that the vaccine manufacturing drug company reps (CDC officials on the take) fought so hard to deny. Even spent $300,000,000.00 of our tax dollars to dodge public exploration of a top secret database set up by corporations who had the money laundered to them through their combination partnerships to secretly monitor vaccine adverse events like Autism.
And, of course, the false presumption that Polio vaccine has stopped Polio is heralded despite the fact that researchers knew twenty, thirty, even fifty years ago that Polio incidence coupled to pesticides was nothing new.
If Mark and Dan want to decry the vaccine manufacturing drug companies for recognizing heavy metals as virtually the only thing in a vaccine vial that actually works then good.
The propaganda relating to Thimerosal often does not include the truth that ethyl-mercury is required, not as a preservative, but as a heavy metal to trigger human immune systems.
That's why we've never hit zero mercury exposure. The only people that keep that information from the public are vaccine makers.
Yes, folks that's it. Thimerosal is still in shots your babies get. Yet, vaccine manufacturing drug companies want you to believe that they have nothing to do with controlling what's in your kid's shots. And vaccine industry stooges point the finger all over the place, except where the chickens have obviously come home to roost.
And when states across the country started to dissect the so called Swine Flu? The US CDC told states to cut it out. Why? They were ruining the vaccine manufacturing drug company scamdemic.
Dr. Maurice Hilleman talks a lot about Polio vaccine here:
Polio vaccine was seeded with cancer and the vaccine manufacturing drug companies shrugged it off as a "scientific affair" within the "scientific community".
Liability-free. Liability-free. Liability-free.
Posted by: Media Scholar | September 27, 2011 at 11:17 PM
Get work Dan & Mark.
I'm still getting through Part 3 (so much to do in so little time).
@Suzanne Humphries - loved your interview with Mike Adams on "Vaccines, get the full story"
Posted by: AussieMum | September 27, 2011 at 06:45 PM
It is amazing that they would blame improved sanitation for polio. It is just idiotic.
Can I suggest the history of smallpox next or the birth of AIDS.
You two should not stop!
Posted by: Cassandra | September 27, 2011 at 03:16 PM
Thank you, particularly for expanding the historical perspective of polio. I was unaware how much association with pesticides was initially made with polio outbreaks. It seems like authorities want to repeat history, i.e. figure out a way to "combat" autism without acknowledgement that leads to prevention through choice, as many may prefer to remove the industrial-chemical causes of the epidemic first. Today, generally ignoring the procedure's hopefully lesser capacity to cause death and disability, vaccination is held up as prevention, but in light of this series it looks more like control.
Posted by: Jeannette Bishop | September 27, 2011 at 01:34 PM
While you are providing a lot of good and interesting information, you are cementing the falsehood that polio vaccines were effective. This is a frightening thing coming from such aware and intelligent people. I hope you will heed Hilary Butler's comments as they will lead you to a deeper truth. Suzanne Humphries, MD
Posted by: Suzanne Humphries | September 27, 2011 at 01:05 PM
I enjoyed this series but am dismayed to find we now have another set of powerful opponents: the agriculture/pesticide/chemical company complex to go along with the usual suspects. Wasn't Big Pharma/Allopathy enough?
Posted by: Theodore Van Oosbree | September 27, 2011 at 11:22 AM
Thank you Dan and Mark. Without a doubt, environmental changes alter microbes. Will human ego accept that we are made of over 90% microbial cells? Lynn Margulis and many before her have tried to bring this truth. I believe that if we truly knew what we are, we wouldn't screw with the environment and therefore us. What a horrifying lesson in hubris, ignorance, politics, greed, and despair.
Posted by: Kelly | September 27, 2011 at 10:40 AM
Great article! Any information re: polio numbers and whether they correlate to areas using well water in the U.S.?
Posted by: Jenny | September 27, 2011 at 10:21 AM
Dan and Mark,
Brilliant work. Thanks.
Posted by: Harry H. | September 27, 2011 at 09:28 AM
I talked with my mom who was born in 1933 and had known many rural Minnesota farm families that had kids affected by polio, sometimes all 10 kids, and the next farm down had no polio even though all the kids played together. It was interesting hat when I mentioned the pesticide/virus connection, she remembered DDT being mentioned a lot during that time. In fact her nickname was "Dee dee" (initials) and to make fun of her they called her "DDT"
I had a farming aunt who did not get polio but died in the late 60's of sclerosis of the liver, which is normally tied to alchoholism but she never drank. It was eventually shown to be the result of pesticide use.
I also want to thank Dan and Mark for brining their historical research and hypothethis to light. No matter whether anyone agrees or disagrees with them, we can hope they take one thing away from their words and apply it to all pharmcuetical products in general:
"....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."
Posted by: Tim Kasemodel | September 27, 2011 at 09:21 AM
This series has been a great supplement to my reading of "The River" right now. Thanks. Where will the article be published?
Posted by: Maurine Meleck | September 27, 2011 at 08:28 AM
OMG! This is the best, most insightful (and inciteful!) thing that you two have ever written!! I'm going to tell everyone about it!
Posted by: CW Grayson | September 27, 2011 at 08:16 AM
Fascinating. What about a summary version to submit to an epidemiology journal?
Posted by: Beckus | September 27, 2011 at 07:59 AM
Mark and Dan
This is very well said.
Posted by: John Stone | September 27, 2011 at 07:43 AM
Dan and Mark, a moving ending to your series. When I was two or three years old, my best friend, Susan, died of polio. My parents burned all the books, clothes, and toys she had touched. Bonfire of fear and grief, to be repeated in the AIDS epidemic generations later.
I hope you and Mark expand your article into a book. Perhaps you will consider writing about SIV/AIDS in a reader-friendly length and style. One thinks of The River and imagines that those vials of African polio vaccine are still in storage somewhere, the freezer ticking. What would modern forensics find in them? Now that could be the story of the 21st Century!
Whatever the next step, your article ends with a lesson that takes the discussion of medicine, metals, and microbes to another plane. Thank you.
Posted by: Dan E. Burns, ATUSA | September 27, 2011 at 07:02 AM