SEPTEMBER 13, 1949
HYDE PARK, Monday—This is a busy time of the year, with children going back to school and people just coming back from vacations, so we are apt to overlook many things that ordinarily would strike us as important.
None of us, however, can forget that we have had and are still having one of the worst epidemics of infantile paralysis that ever struck this country. It is so bad that the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis is asking everyone during this week to make another contribution instead of waiting for the usual March of Dimes drive. Funds are very low and we are told that money will be needed, which is not now in hand, for the rest of this year.
Up to August 27 the number stricken had climbed to over 20,000, and medical authorities think we will have at least 40,000 cases by the end of the year. In 1948 the total was only 28,000.
Fortunately for us, we know now that more than half, perhaps as many as 75 percent of the total number of cases will not be permanently disabled. In spite of that, however, the expense of giving the early treatment is the same for the mild case as for the serious one. There is no immediate diagnosis that differentiates between a mild and serious case.
Last week the national headquarters of the National Foundation sent out $438,353 to chapters that had run out of funds, and it is likely that similar financial help will be needed for the next two or three months. The Foundation is asking for $14,500,000 from the people of the United States to be used entirely for epidemic service and the care of patients until the January 1950 March of Dimes replenishes the funds of the organization.
I think that having just been to Warm Springs and seen patients of every age—one almost a baby, many little children, some older children and adults—I feel more keenly than I might otherwise about the need for care, and care of the very best kind, to bring every patient back to maximum activity. We are fortunate that so many cases in this epidemic year have been mild ones and many sufferers have little or no paralysis. All of them, however, must be carefully watched in the early stages and one cannot fail to give the best of care just because the money is not available. That is something the people of this country will not permit, I am sure.
Therefore, I hope each and every one of us will feel a responsibility to give an extra contribution at this time. We may even add a little, specifying that the Foundation shall put the extra sum into a fund to intensify the research in some of the institutions which give promise of making real advances in discovering the cause and cure for this dread disease.