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The Polio Outbreak of 1952

As originally published in the Frederick Semi-weekly News on 9/23/52

Sewage Is Seen as Polio Cause
Condition At Emmitsburg
Considered Likely Contributor

Two additional cases of polio have been reported in the Emmitsburg area in the past several days and Dr. Forbes Burgess. county Health Officer. stated that untreated sewage which is dumped lilt( Flat Run Creek may be a possible source of the infection.

The two latest cues are Charles Wastler Jr , 3. son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wastler of the Federal Hill area of Emmitsburg. and Sterling Myers. 9, of East Main street.

Wastler is affected with semi paralysis and. was taken to Baltimore City Hospitals on Sunday Myers became ill on Saturday and is still at his home. The Health Department reported that Myers has suffered no paralysis- but spina fluid change- gave a positive diagnosis of polio.

Dr. Burgess stated that it is impossible to prove the stream was a source of infection. but added that there was a strong possibility that the stream is contaminated since all of the infected children have played in the area near the stream or came in contact will others who have played near the stream.

Stream May Be Infected

In addition. Dr. Burgess said that untreated sewage from the home of one of the polio cases flows into Flat Run Creek. It is very possible that the stream is at present infected, since scientists have proven that the polio virus is present in sewage." Dr. Burgess added.

Dr. Burgess said that sewage from about one-third of the homes in Emmitsburg, mainly in the Federal Hill section. flows either directly or indirectly into the creek. "We have recommended for some time that the condition be remedied, and last year the Health Department posted the stream with signs stating the water was polluted." the health officer continued.

The health officer and Dr. James. R. Strain, epidemiologist with the State Department of Health, yesterday visited the Emmitsburg community and strongly recommended that something be done about treatment of sewage from the Federal Hill area. They also reported that a definite relationship between all the infected children has been established.

Regulations of the State Health Department prohibit discharge of raw or partially treated sewage into any stream, lake or other water area.

Children Quarantined

Dr. Burgess said he recommended that children of school age and food handlers in the four households it which polio has developed in Emmitsburg be isolated for 14 day: The usual incubation for polio is from 7 to 14 days.

The other victims of polio in the Emmitsburg area are Dennis Boyle, 8-year-old son of Sgt. and Mrs. Joseph Boyle who was taken ill on September and Danny Gerry, son of Mrs. Jennie Motter, who was taken to the Baltimore City Hospital on September 13. The Gerry youth is reported improving and the Boyle child is still in respirator

The health officer said there was no connection or contact found between the four Emmitsburg case and other cases reported in the county. There are now a total of 12 cases of polio in the county.

The Boyle child was as just begin school when he was stricken and the health officer said he was taken to school by Sterling Myer; the last case reported. Other relationships have also exited between the other children infected.

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