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Polio Rushes through Southern Oregon in 1935

 
The dreaded disease of poliomyelitis, rushed through Southern Oregon in November 1935.  Also known as infantile paralysis, polio first hit Klamath County with isolated cases in October that led to school closures. 

 
The first cases in the Rogue Valley were reported on Nov. 8.  Howard School closed after two children were stricken and soon died. Other schools in Medford sent any child with a cold home immediately and washed all surfaces touched by children. On Nov. 18, new cases were reported at the Withus motor camp and Birdseye Creek near Rogue River, where a 4-year-old died at her family’s campsite. Fears spread that the homeless were a community danger.  A Central Point boy came down with the disease on Nov. 19.
 
No new cases were reported on Nov. 20, but officials shut down Talent schools and canceled public meetings as a precaution against the spread of colds and measles, and polio. That night the medical community met for a series of lectures on the control and treatment of polio. The county medical officer, A. N. Johnson, suggested that some of the reported cases were probably not polio, and no epidemic existed.
 
That year’s danger had passed. 
 

 
 
 
Sources: "Fifth Paralysis Case in County on Anderson Creek." Medford Mail Tribune 17 Nov. 1935: 1. Print; "K Falls Paralysis Victim Succumbs." Ibid. 18 Nov. 1935: 1. "Small Child Ill with Polio Dies, New Case Listed." Ibid. 18 Nov. 1935: 1. "List Polio Case in Central Point." Ibid. 19 Nov. 1935: 2. Print; "No New Case of Polio Reported." Ibid. 20 Nov. 1935: 5. "Polio Diagnosis Placed in Doubt." Ibid. 21 Nov. 1935: 12.  "Polio Diagnosis Placed in Doubt." Ibid. 21 Nov. 1935: 12. 
 
 

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Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.