Twin Voices, by Janice Flood Nichols, provides a unique and timely glimpse into polio, a virus that killed and maimed millions of children and adults during the twentieth century.


In 1953, polio struck DeWitt, NY (an eastern suburb of Syracuse) with a vengeance. In a first grade class of twenty-four students, eight children contracted the disease – one child, Frank Flood Jr., died sixty-one hours after admission to City Hospital; another first grader and her older sister died several years later of complications. Frankie’s twin sister, Janice, was admitted to the hospital on the evening of his burial. Diagnosed with paralytic polio, Janice recovered. She participated in the 1954 Salk vaccine trial, as one of nearly two million “Polio Pioneers.” Today, she remains dedicated to the goal of worldwide polio eradication. Twin Voices tells the story of polio, the disease, and the story of one family’s bout with the killer, in multiple “voices.”

 

Although the number of worldwide polio cases has dropped from 350,000 in 1988 to a current level of less than 1000 cases per year, polio eradication remains an elusive, but important, international public health endeavor. Unfortunately, current funding gaps experienced by eradication partners threaten eradication efforts. It is now estimated that if polio is not eradicated, over ten million more children will be paralyzed by mid-century.

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