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Grace Carlson

Infantile Paralysis vs. Profits

(3 August 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. 10 No. 31, 3 August 1946, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Poliomyelitis has reached the epidemic stage in Minneapolis. Public health authorities report that in the first 23 days of July, 122 new polio cases occurred. There have been 15 deaths from the disease during July.

Also known as infantile paralysis, polio is the much dreaded crippler of children. In the present Minneapolis epidemic, more than 80 per cent of the victims are under 15 years of age. Frightened parents have been besieging the city health department for advice on how to protect their children from polio infection.

Doctors admit that they do not know just how infantile paralysis is transmitted but they are offering a number of practical precautions to help guard against the continued spread of the disease. They advise parents to keep their children away from crowds; to prevent overheating and over-exertion; to guard against chill after swimming; to see that children’s hands axe kept clean, particularly at mealtime.

These health, tips have been given daily publicity in the Minneapolis papers during the polio epidemic. But much more and much better publicity is being given to the Minneapolis Aquatennial, which violates every one of the health rules that doctors have laid down to safeguard Minneapolis children from infantile paralysis.

Ari annual event, the Minneapolis Aquatennial is a huge publicity stunt, cooked up by the business men of that city. Swimming contests and. Various other water sports, parades, baseball tournaments, public dances and music festivals are featured during the ten-day festivities. Children’s bands, baseball clubs, and glee clubs are brought to Minneapolis from cities throughout Minnesota to take part in the Aquatennial contests.

Before the Aquatennial opened on July 19, groups of Minneapolis medical men, parents and teachers urged the city officials to call it off. The polio outbreak was not yet at an epidemic stage, but the serious danger of bringing large crowds and children together in the Aquatennial events was pointed out to the city authorities. However, Minneapolis business men pUt their own pressure on the officials of the city, and the Aquatennial went on.

That the crowds brought together by the Aquatennial have spread polio and that still more victims will be claimed in Minneapolis and throughout Minnesota can scarcely be doubted. Minneapolis authorities are pointing with pride to the fact that the city has good facilities for treating polio victims. Dr. Frank Hill, city health commissioner, said recently, “The Elizabeth Kenny institute, the best known institution of its kind in the world, has a full staff of competent, fully trained technicians, equipped to provide the most up-to-date treatment.” Sister Elizabeth Kenny, originator of the polio treatment bearing her name, was reported to be flying to Minneapolis to aid in the fight to save the young victims from severe crippling and disfigurement.

But working to prevent polio – that’s something else! It can’t be done if profits stand in the way!

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Last updated: 18 June 2021