How monkeys played an instrumental role in the development of polio vaccines



In the nineteen forties. America was under a constant threat from polio. A disease that had a then unknown cause and devastating effects especially in children. It spread quickly through unclean water and unwashed hands leading to symptoms like nausea fatigue. Fever and a stiffening of the body summers especially saw surges infections particularly around swimming holes leading to post polio paralysis and in some cases death on average thirty five thousand people were disabled each year. According to the centers for disease control and prevention president franklin delano roosevelt was among the most notable people to get the condition putting a face to a still uncertain disease. A vaccine was desperately needed as scientists learned about the transmission process including the fact that anyone could be a carrier in the next few years rival scientists jonas and albert sabin worked with teams in their labs on two completely different vaccines. Sabin worked on an oral vaccine. While sulk created an injectable vaccine that using a kill version of polio in the book polio and american story. David m ocean ski writes about the urgency of work. During the time quote. I talk there was reason to hurry the year. Nineteen fifty two was the worst polio year. On record with more than fifty seven thousand cases nationwide the headlines screamed of plague season and polio time. Twenty one thousand victims suffered permanent paralysis and about three thousand died from the very beginning of the polio epidemic. Monkeys were considered to be essential for research before human trials could take place becoming the unsung heroes of the fight to defeat the disease was through animal research that scientists i discovered that there were three strains of the deadly disease. The monkeys were purchased at a high cost from india and the philippines and shipped to the united states. Many died in transit so the national foundation for infantile paralysis now known as the march of dimes began overseeing their import in nineteen forty nine. A foundation established a special facility known as ot farms and rural south carolina to process the monkeys arriving from abroad oak tree farms operated in the picnic colony a beaufort county in coastal south carolina. Originally called the prichard bill primate center. The forty acre or sixteen hectare tract of land along. The river was called by local newspapers. The ellis island for thousands of monkeys from india naturalist john. Hamlet had the job of finding a space for the primate center. That was both connected to deep water ports and airports but also remote enough for neighbors the area he chose closely approximated the natural habitats of the monkeys with its abundance of shady long leaf pines and a mild climate. The monkeys were originally brought into savannah. Georgia one of the region's biggest ports and taken by truck the thirty odd miles or fifty some kilometers to the farm. When air travel became more popular they were flown by a london and new york before travelling by train to the low country. Once they arrived at the farm veterinarians treated the two thousand or so recess and sign a mogus monkeys before clearing them for transport to research facilities around the country. The monkeys spent twenty one days. Getting acclimated and eating a special diet was scientists carefully monitoring their status many went to sell nukes facility in pittsburg and sabin in ann arbor where they were given vaccines to test the vaccine. Strength against the three strains of poliovirus a few locals were aware of the research that was going on at the farm. Despite rumors of people encountering the animals we were unable to discover any opposition to the research facility perhaps because it was not well known and also because opposition to using animals and testing was not very common at the time in the united states. The movement against animal testing didn't pick up steam until around nineteen eighty in any case. The farms purpose wasn't permanent. Once sox polio vaccine was deemed a success and released to the public in nineteen fifty-five the work of qatif arms was no longer necessary and the facility closed in nineteen fifty-nine saban's oral vaccine came into use in nineteen sixty one the foundation that had established the facility. Its attention to reducing premature births. The monkeys found new homes and labs across the country. According to a former employee named louise crawford things at the farm were left just as they were including the monkey cages. A caretaker kept the grass and plant life at bay. The lab was locked up ready for someone new to take on the important task of preparing monkeys for research but that day never came in nineteen eighty the land and its contents were sold to development group. The lab equipment was donated to a local school science department while a farmer claimed the former monkey cages for his own animals. Today acreage along. The river is mostly residential and privately owned thanks to south and saban's vaccines polio cases of plummeted from three hundred and fifty thousand nine. Nineteen eighty eight to just twenty two in two thousand seventeen

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