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A Paralyzing Fear: The Story of Polio in America
IMDB Rating: 7.8/10 from 40 votes
Release: 4 March 1998 (USA) /

A Paralyzing Fear: The Story of Polio in America

Genre: Documentary
Director: Nina Gilden Seavey,
Stars:
Synopsis: Few know the story of how polio came to America in 1916 and grew into the frightening epidemics of the 1940's and 50's when the diseases crippled tens of thousands of children every summer.

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Critic Reviews


This is a very clear and personalised presentation of the history and human impact of a seriously debilitating disease - one which we in the western world are too often tempted to think of in the past tense.

We're informed that a vaccine is considered "successful" if 85-90% of people acquire immunity as a result. So there is still ample room for polio to persist and do harm to individuals, but thankfully not on the scale that affected my parent's generation.

We also gain an insight into the struggle between two passionate scientists each of whom were devoted to proving their theories for the benefit of mankind.

On ABC Australian television we saw a 55 minute edited version, but it still packed a punch. It closed by pointing out that after decades of successful polio control in the western world, the vital need for vaccine in third world countries was only just starting to be addressed.

I expect that the full length version of this film would have included mention of the condition "post-polio syndrome" which I friend of mine suffers. Every few years she endures recurring bouts of severe weakness and agonising pain - and the big obstacle to finding treatment is that very few hospital personnel even know that the condition exists.

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