‘The most feared disease of childhood and adolescence’ and ‘a deafening silence’: polio and post-polio in Australia

15 February 2016

Extremely contagious and potentially fatal, polio reaped an annual harvest from the late 19th through the middle of the 20th centuries. Polio has since been almost eradicated by programs of mass vaccination and is now forgotten. Yet the threat of polio persists in two ways. An unknown number of survivors suffer ‘post-polio syndrome’, with its crushing fatigue and further muscle weakening. Meanwhile, in rich countries, complacency, ignorance, suspicion and deliberate misinformation lead worryingly large numbers of parents to refuse to have their children vaccinated, with potentially tragic consequences. Ben Tipton was intrigued to find three recent books that feature this old disease here in Australia -- a history, a novel and an account of a broken family, all of them highly readable and rewarding. Read his very compelling article in the Australian Review of Public Affairs.

 

Book Title: Dancing in My Dreams: Confronting the Spectre of Polio
Publisher: Monash University Publishing
Date published: 2015
Author: Kerry Highley

Book Title: The Golden Age
Publisher: Random House/Vintage Books Australia
Date published: 2015
Author: Joan London

Book Title: Boy, Lost: A Family Memoir
Publisher: Queensland University Press
Date published: 2013
Author: Kristina Olsson

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Suggested Citation

Frank B. Tipton, 2016, ‘The most feared disease of childhood and adolescence’ and ‘a deafening silence’: polio and post-polio in Australia, Australian Review of Public Affairs, viewed 01 June 2016, <http://apo.org.au/node/61617>.

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