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To begin, Polio had been one of the many, destructive diseases that had no cure in the time of the 1930s, causing fear amongst people, children and adults alike. It was a dreadful illness that troubled the nation, and caused many people, children and adults to become crippled. Polio, also known as Poliomyelitis caused an infinite paralysis, targeting a human’s nervous system.
There had been very little known about the disease in the beginning of the 1930s, but doctors were slowly able to try and prevent it. Polio had a huge influence on the decade, as parents did their best to limit the chances of their children getting contaminated, and the disease eventually led to its cure. Because Polio could potentially kill, children had oftentimes been limited to public places in which the disease could thrive. As doctors couldn’t yet identify the way that the contamination was spread, people limited their contact with others with the fear of dying or losing a loved one. The United States president, Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to encourage others that Polio would soon die down and find a cure by saying, “The only thing that we have to fear is fear itself.” He had said this, as the 1930s was filled with fear and disaster, caused by the infection. He had been diagnosed with Polio himself in his time and knew that everyone was greatly fearful of the deadly disease. The effects of Polio were disastrous and limited people, along with the president from doing various things, and spread fear through the land. Attempts to vaccinate people against the illness had backfired, causing more harm than good.
People who were injected with the underdeveloped vaccine, developed a vaccine-associated Polio. (faqs.org 2) This caused a larger crisis, as the only hope that people had, backfired, causing more deaths and a larger threat. “Vaccine trials in 1935, using convalescent human serum, may actually have enhanced the risk of paralytic polio and may also have transmitted other virus diseases such as hepatitis.” (2) This is proving how the attempts to prevent and find a cure for Polio, only caused more issues to arise within the patients. As the catastrophic disease went on, the lives of people didn’t stand much of a chance. The ongoing crisis was bad enough, and the small amount of money didn’t make the situation better. The lack of money limited the ways that people could get treated for Polio and this didn’t help doctors research the causes and ways to prevent the illness. The money deficiency causes a slower movement in preventing and treating Polio, but despite this, the knowledge of Polio slowly grew and improved, getting the 1930s further away from the despair and disaster of the diseases. Though the final breakthrough of Polio cures and treatments came much later on, it had left a huge impact on the 1930s, influencing the people and causing disaster as it swept through the decade.
To continue, Syphilis and the Venereal Disease were one of the most destructive, STDs of the 1930s, raging with impunity through this time. Syphilis, is a horrible disease that has the power to invade a person’s body and strongly oppose many types of treatments that had been attempted. As stated by John Frith, “There were very few, and hardly effective methods to treat this STD, and the treatments that were used, often caused mercury poisoning in the patient.” (6) These diseases caused fear within people, as it was easily spread from person to person, striking about one out of every ten adults. (Wuebker 1) 70% of those who got infected with any one of these diseases would die, especially if the disease wasn’t spotted until severe symptoms were displayed. (Anderson 1)
These diseases were especially frightening because people would go around, unharmed for a while after getting them before showing the actual symptoms. By then, it was already too late to do much to stop the destruction that it would cause. The topics of Syphilis and the Venereal Disease were often times put aside as they were STDs, but in the 1930s, information on them began to appear everywhere. (Wuebker 5) The public was told about what is was and how to avoid getting this disease after it became overly severe. In 1938, Congress passed the National Venereal Disease Control Act, meant to try and stop the spread. People began getting their blood tested, in order for doctors to spot the disease before it could get worse. (5) If the diseases began spreading, it was easier to get infected and so people would get tested to avoid the spread of fear. As people strived to get themselves tested for Syphilis and the Venereal Disease, poverty increased, as the medical bills piled up. Medication was scarce and treatment and tests for these diseases was hard to come by for those with limited money, as methods to treat these diseases were often times fairly expensive. Stereotypes began spreading about various races of people and their tendency to get the diseases or the ability to get tested for them. However, although both Syphilis and the Venereal Disease cause fear and turmoil within the 1930s, doctors were able to strongly combat the spread of them and were able to lessen the number of infections.
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