Smoke, Mirrors and the Disappearance of Polio
Dr Suzanne Humphries (2011)
In this presentation, board certified nephrologist Dr Suzanne Humphries traces the real reasons for the decline of poliomyelitis (aka infantile paralysis) in the US. She begins by describing the natural course of polio virus infection. Ninety-five percent of infected patients have no symptoms whatsoever, 4% have fever, headache and flu-like symptoms and 1% develop poliomyelitis (paralysis). The reason paralysis develops is because a defect in cell mediated immunity (CMI)* allows the virus to enter the central nervous system.
Humphries has spent years tracking down toxic environmental exposures known to impede cell mediated immunity. She has identified four that closely correlate with increased rates of polio infection in the 1940s and 1950s.
The first was increased use of infant formula contaminated with high levels of DDT and arsenic (in the forties and fifties, dairy cows were heavily treated with DDT and arsenic to suppress infectious disease).
The second was heavy use of DDT, which can cause flaccid paralysis independent of infection with polio virus, in middle class schools and households. Children and their food were routinely sprayed with DDT in the 1950s to protect them against infectious diseases. In addition, there were a wide variety of household products containing DDT. Humphries believes this may be a primary reason why “infantile paralysis” was far more prevalent in upper middle class families than in poor families who couldn’t afford these products.
The third was an epidemic level of tonsillectomies (in the 1950s, 85% of American children received tonsillectomies). Not only does tonsillectomy remove the primary barrier preventing infectious bacteria from entering the airway and gut, but the surgical trauma allows the polio virus direct access to the central nervous system. The link between tonsillectomies and infantile paralysis has been well documented since the early fifties, and surgeons were strongly warned not to do these procedures during “polio season.”
The fourth was a big increase in consumption of white sugar and and flour treated with quick lime, bleach and other toxic chemicals to whiten it.
Nearly all of these environmental exposures (DDT, arsenicals, tonsillectomies, toxic sugar and flour bleaches) were either banned or drastically curtailed at the end of the 1960s. According to Humphries, this, rather than vaccination, was the primary reason for the so-called eradication of polio in 1979.
An important secondary reason was an improvement in diagnosis of infantile paralysis. Following the introducing of polio vaccine in 1954, the medical establishment, eager to promote its effectiveness, were more careful to separate out other common causes of paralysis that were being misdiagnosed as polio (DDT and arsenic poisoning, Guillain Barre and coxsackie virus infection).
Franklin Roosevelt, who actually suffered from Guillain Barre, was the most famous person to be misdiagnosed with polio.
Humphries also briefly touches on the disaster caused by the introduction of the Salk vaccine and the 1955 Cutter incident, in which 220,000 children were accidentally infected with live polio virus, resulting in 200 cases of permanent paralysis and ten deaths.
*In cell mediated immunity (CMI), which is separate from the humoral immunity (involving antibodies), special attack cells kill the invading organisms. Vaccines only stimulate antibody production – they have no effect whatsoever on CMI.