Tag Archives: United States

Eradicator of Polio – Dr. Jonas Salk


.

Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

.

Polio Egyptian Stele
Polio Egyptian Stele

.

The effects of polio have been known since ancient times. Egyptian paintings and carvings depict afflicted people with withered limbs, and children walking with canes to support. The photo on the right is that of an Egyptian 18th Dynasty (1403–1365 BC) stele thought to represent a polio victim.

At the turn of the twentieth century, small, localized paralytic polio epidemics began to appear in the United States and Europe. During the first half of the twentieth century, polio epidemic outbreaks reached pandemic proportions in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Prior to the 20th century, polio infections, in most cases afflicted children six months to four years of age. It was rarely seen in infants before six months of age. Around 1950’s the peak age incidence of polio in the United States shifted from infants to children aged five to nine years; and almost one-third of the cases reported were in persons over 15 years of age. Hence, the rate of paralysis and death due to polio infection also increased during this time. In 1952, the United States, saw the worst outbreak of the polio epidemic in the nation’s history. Around 58,000 cases were reported that year out of which more than three thousand died, mostly children, and more than twenty thousand were afflicted with mild to disabling paralysis of the limbs.

.

Dr. Jonas Salk
Dr. Jonas Salk

.

In early 1950s, this scourge brought fear into the hearts of everyone, especially the parents of young and teenage children, as it was very well publicized with extensive media coverage of any scientific advancement that might lead to a cure. Thus, the scientists and researchers working on polio became some of the most famous of the century.

This burden of fear was lifted forever when an American dedicated researcher and virologist, Dr. Jonas Salk made the “impossible possible” by developing a vaccine to fight polio. Dr. Salk became world-famous overnight, but his discovery was the result of many years of painstaking research.

Jonas Edward Salk was born on October 28, 1914 in New York City to parents from Ashkenazi Jewish Russian immigrant families. Although his parents themselves did not have much formal education, they were determined to see their children study and succeed.

Salk had an immense passion for science. It was because of this that he finally chose medicine over law as his career goal. During his years at the New York University School of Medicine he stood out from his peers, according to Bookchin, “not just because of his continued academic prowess—he was Alpha Omega Alpha, the Phi Beta Kappa Society of medical education—but because he had decided he did not want to practice medicine.”

After obtaining his M.D. degree at the New York University School of Medicine in 1939, he worked as a staff physician at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Later, he joined  the University of Michigan as a research fellow. There,  at the behest of the U.S. Army, he developed a vaccine for influenza. In 1947, he joined the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine as director of the Virus Research Laboratory.

Jonas Edward Salk (Photo courtesy of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies)

.

While developing the influenza vaccine, he had observed that protection could be established using noninfectious, inactivated (killed) viruses. So, in Pittsburgh Salk developed the techniques that would lead to his polio vaccine. Vaccines against smallpox and rabies were induced by infecting by a living virus, but Salk thought otherwise – he conceived the idea that protective immunity could be induced, without infection by a living virus.

Basil O’Connor, president of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, showed interest in Salk’s research. His organization decided to fund Salk’s research to develop a killed virus vaccine against paralytic poliomyelitis.

The vaccines developed by Sak’s team were tested first by injecting monkeys and then on patients who already had polio. Next, in order to test the vaccine on people who had not had polio, Salk injected himself, then his wife, his three sons, his laboratory staff, and volunteers. All of them developed anti-polio antibodies without encountering any bad reactions to the vaccine.

Finally, national testing of the polio vaccine began in 1954. One million children, ages six to nine, who became known as the ‘Polio Pioneers’ were injected: half of them were given the vaccine, while the other half received a placebo.

.

On April 12, 1955, Dr. Thomas Francis, Jr., of the University of Michigan, the monitor of the test results declared that vaccine to be safe and effective. When news of the vaccine’s success was made public on April 12, 1955, Salk was hailed as a “miracle worker”, and the day almost became a national holiday.

The average number of polio cases in the US was more than 45,000 in the two years before the vaccine was made widely available. In 1962, that number had dropped to 910.

Dr. Jonas Salk never patented the vaccine, nor did he earn any money from his discovery. He preferred to see it distributed as widely as possible. When the late television personality Ed Murrow asked him, “Who owns this patent?”, Salk replied, “No one. Could you patent the sun?”

This great humanitarian researcher died in June 23, 1995.

.

.

By 1988, polio had disappeared from the US, UK, Australia and much of Europe and South America, but remained prevalent in more than 125 countries. The same year, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution to eradicate the disease completely by the year 2000. 

.

.

The WHO Americas region was certified polio free in 1994, with the last wild case recorded in the Western Pacific region (which includes China) in 1997. A further landmark came in 2002 when the WHO certified the European region polio-free.

.

.

In 2012, Polio remains officially endemic in four countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, and India. Despite so much progress, polio remains a risk with virus from Pakistan re-infecting China in 2011, which had been polio-free for more than a decade.  India is on the verge of being removed from the list having not had a case since January 2011.

Advertisements

Pilgrimage to the Grotto Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes – Emmitsburg, Maryland


.
Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

.

IMG_0640

.

This is a sequel to my post  “GROTTO SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF LOURDES – EMMITSBURG, MARYLAND” of February 16, 2012.

Our recent visit on the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes on 11th February 2012 was an unforgettable experience for my wife and me.  Though it was snowing that day, we were  indeed happy to be there at this holy Shrine at Emmitsburg, where Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native born American to be canonized by the Catholic Church, had trod a long time ago.

Grotto Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes – Emmitsburg, Maryland


.
Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

.

Above the lovely valley of Emmitsburg, Frederick County, Maryland, just 12 miles south of Gettysburg, situated high on the mountainside, where nature displays itself in all its picturesque and wild glory sits the wondrous National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes – a shrine which traces its lineage to the very beginnings of the spread of Catholicism in America.

.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, Foundress of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph's (1774-1821) (Source: dailygospel.org)
Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, Foundress of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph’s (1774-1821) (Source: dailygospel.org)

.

Incredibly linked with Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native-born American to be canonized by the Catholic Church, the Shrine is one of the oldest known American replica of the revered French shrine, dating to about 1875, two decades after the apparitions at Lourdes (1858), although the site had already been in use since 1805, when Father John Dubois founded it as a place of prayer and devotion.

This holy mountain sanctuary of historic importance to the Catholics of America has been devoutly tended throughout the years and attracts thousands of pilgrims from all parts of the world for prayer and meditation.

.

.

My wife Assuntha and I along with my son Subas, daughter-in-law Maria Ligia, grandson Rohan and my grandson’s godfather Joe Napoleon visited this holy shrine on Saturday 11 February 2012. It was snowing that day, nevertheless, we thank the Almighty for leading us to Emmitsburg, where Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint had trod a long time ago on the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes.

.

The Story of Our Lady’s Grotto

In the year 1728, a group of Catholics left St. Mary’s City on the St. Mary’s River, in Maryland, and travelled westward seeking peace and religious freedom. These Catholics were children and grandchildren of the early colonists of Maryland.

.

.

Among the refugees of 1728, were the members of the William Elder family, forebears of Archbishop Elder of Cincinnati. They travelled to the west almost one hundred miles to the Blue Ridge Mountains, located in the eastern United States, starting at its southern-most portion in Georgia, then ending northward in Pennsylvania. They stopped at the first range of the Blue Ridge Mountains, giving the loved name, “St. Mary’s Mount” to its eastern prominence.

.

.

Finding rest in a peaceful valley of “surpassing beauty,” which they called “St. Joseph’s Valley,” they took the land and built their homes. Here they were cared for spiritually through the years by missionary priests forced to travel in disguise because of the penal laws against Catholics prevailing during that time.

.

.
The Elder farmhouse became known as “Elder’s Station.” Here Mass was celebrated and the dead were buried in the adjoining cemetery.

.

Father John Dubois and the Grotto

In 1805, after the Revolution and the constitutional grant of religious freedom, Father John Dubois, a refugee priest from France, came to this area and settled. This priest, who later became Bishop of New York, was, in the year 1794, appointed pastor of Frederick by Bishop Carroll. His pastorate included all of western Maryland and western Virginia. Of all the lovely places he visited in this wild and mountainous country, he came to love most the Mountain of Mary and the Valley of St. Joseph.

.

.

In 1805, on St. Mary’s Mount, Father John Dubois built St. Mary’s Church at the site of the present Grotto parking lot.

For over a century, this church was a beacon calling the faithful to Mass from the Valley and a reminder to them to keep the Faith. Numerous paths, traceable up to this day and all converging on the church, show with what fidelity the Catholics practised their faith.

To this very day the people of the Valley, now members of St. Anthony’s parish, exhibit a strong, living and very simple faith. Families have lived here for many generations. Very few move away. They are a happy people with a proud awareness of their ancient Catholic heritage. After all, very few parishes in these United States can claim that they have had uninterrupted priestly service for 235 years. Very few Americans can say that their forebears were taught by holy people. They are the spiritual children of Saint Mother Seton.

On the lower terraces, Father Dubois began the first building of Mount Saint Mary’s College and Seminary in 1808.

.

Father Simon Gabriel Bruté

One of the holy founders of the Grotto, Father Simon Gabriel Bruté came to the Mountain in 1812. This remarkable priest, later first Bishop of Vincennes, Indiana, combined in his person the talents and attainments of a scholar, theologian, master of the spiritual life, teacher, and pastor of souls.

.

Father Simon Gabriel Bruté

.

This spiritual enthusiast reveled in the beauty of the Mountain of Mary and the Valley of St. Joseph. Father Bruté brought to the Mountain and the Valley a program of holy activity.

.

.

Remembering the orderly, cultivated hills of his native France, Father Bruté strove to “smooth the frown from nature’s erring face.” Springs were cleaned out, covered and named for saints; terraces and paths found their way up the rugged Mountainside to the. church and Grotto. They were constructed so well that we walk along them today and the stone walls remain. He attached crosses to the trees on the path between the church and the Grotto so that one might make the Stations of the Cross along this beautiful woodland avenue.

.

.

On the left side of the Grotto parking lot. several hundred yards back in the mountains, behind the site of Father John Dubois’ church, is the famous Grotto, the most ancient shrine consecrated to Mary, the mother of God, in continuous existence in the original thirteen colonies, on which was begun in 1875 the first Lourdes Grotto in America.

.

 “Aisle of the Corpus Christi Procession.”

A memorable devotion centered about the old Grotto was the annual Corpus Christi procession.

It was during Father John Baptist Purcell’s (later Archbishop of Cincinnati, Ohio) term as president of the college (1829-1833) that these annual processions at the Grotto over Father Bruté’s paths began, or at least began to be chronicled, and another charm was added to the Mountain.

.

.

The lovely road lying between the site of the old church and the Grotto is still called the “Aisle of the Corpus Christi Procession.”

.

Corpus Christi Chapel

.

This stone chapel was built in 1906 on the site of the original Grotto discovered by Father John DuBois in 1805.

There is a legend that Father John Dubois, on one of his pastoral journeys, was attracted by a light on the mountain and found this spot, one of the loveliest in the world.

.

.

Those of a more practical mind may surmise that Father John Dubois was seeking the source of the stream which flowed out of the ravine into the valley below.  Just what did the priest find on his day of discovery?

He climbed a steep ascent through a rocky ravine along a tumbling torrent, which was much broader and more unruly than at present, for its volume has lessened since the trees were cut down on the mountain. He came upon a lovely clearing, a masterpiece of natural beauty. Sharply sloping hills from almost every side formed a natural amphitheater where nature “displayed itself in all its wild and picturesque beauty.” In the center of this clearing, where now the stone chapel stands, he saw a mound, shaded by the branches of an ancient oak. Such huge oak trees are seen even to this day on the mountain, survivors of the woodsmen’s devastation.

In any event, Father John Dubois found the Grotto-site, a dell of breath-taking beauty, and there erected a rude cross.

.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Grotto

.
.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first Superior of the Sisters of Charity, dedicated to serving the poor, was the next holy person to love the Grotto. She came in the year 1809 to the Mountain where, before moving to the Valley, she and her little band of pioneer sisters lived for six weeks near the Church and the Grotto. Here her sister-in-law Harriet received the gift of Faith. And, after Mother Seton moved to the Valley, the Grotto was to her the most loved spot on the mountain. It is possible that Mother Seton first called it the Grotto, for we find this reference in one of her letters, dated May 27, 1810:

“If you could breathe our mountain air and taste the repose of the deep woods and streams. Yesterday we all, about twenty children and sisters, dined in our grotto on the mountain, where we go Sundays for the divine office.”

.

.

Rosetta Landry White, called Mother Rose, who succeeded Mother Seton gives further details of this holy association with the Grotto:

About this time we walked to the Mountain Church every Sunday to sing at High Mass and assist at the sermon; there was no bridge over the creek in our way, therefore, when the water was high, we had to cross one by one on horseback; and when low, we passed over on the stones; as there was no clear road to the Mountain we often lost our way in the woods. We carried our dinner in a basket and frequently cooked our meat at the mountain; taking it from the frying-pan to place it on a piece of bread without a knife or fork, and ate it standing, as the Israelites of old ate the Pascal Lamb. We would then quench our thirst at a neighboring spring and ramble for a time around the Grotto, a wild and picturesque spot some distance from the Church, furnished with seats, covered with vines, wild flowers in luxuriance around it and a gentle rivulet flowing from the rock above. We thus amused ourselves until time for Vespers and Benediction after which we returned to our Home in the Valley. This was all pleasant enough in summer, although we had no umbrellas to protect us from the heat of the sun or the showers that sometimes surprised us. On coming to the creek in the rain, we would find there a horse sent from the Mountain by Father Du Bois, to take us across; the eldest Sister would remain standing in the rain by the old oak tree until we all has safely passed over; then taking her turn, she would sometimes continue her ride to the farm-house door. Our shoes would be heavy with mud and our clothes so wet that we would be obliged to change. We continue this Sunday journey to the Mountain.” – Mother Rose White’s Journal 1809.

The eldest Sister, mentioned by Mother Rose must definitely be Mother Seton.

.

.

The first statue of Our Lady was placed in the Grotto in Mother Seton’s time. Truly Mother Seton loved this Grotto. It entered into her daily thoughts, conversations, and writings. In a letter to Father Brute, she prayed for “one only heart, clear for my thoughts as the stream of your Grotto.”

.

Poor people in the United States!


.

Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
.

Elkridge, Maryland, USA.

January 30, 2012

Yesterday, my son suggested that we go shopping at IKEA. Though it was sunny and cloudless, the temperature outside the car was 45° F (7° C) and freezing.

Before coming over to the United States, I thought that everyone here had enough monetary resources. But, on our way to College Park, the image in my mind of an affluent United States of America shattered.

.

IMG_0493.jpg

.

Do you see the woman in the center of the above photo standing in the middle of the road holding a placard?

.

Poor-in-US-2.jpg

 

Since we were in the third lane. I could not read what was written. So, I zoomed in with my camera.  What I read shocked me.

Family in Need
Due Lay off
Any help Appreciated
Thank you
God Bless.

– Elkridge, Maryland.

While in India, I thought the United States of America was a land flowing with milk and honey. But now I realize that this country is no different from any country in Asia. It too has its own quota of poor people!

.

My-Ex-wife-had-a-better-lawyer.jpg

.

In a lighter vein, my former student Keerthi Jeyaraj posted the above picture in Facebook. He says:

“Quite common here…I see a lot of such ppl with hoardings in Manhattan… the best part I saw was at Vegas… a beggar had a board in front of him that said:  ‘My Ex-wife had a better lawyer’.

.

Photos taken while travelling by car in US.


.

Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
.

I took these photos on 14 and 15 January 2012 while travelling in my younger son Subas Raj’s car.

Initially, occupying the front seat while my son drove his Honda CRV smoothly between 60 and 70 mph, I felt a bit jittery being not used to left-hand driving.

I really admire the clean streets over here in the United States – not a bit of paper or piled garbage could be seen. The roads are smooth devoid of potholes – no bumpy roads and so, no backache.

No town busses. So, everyone has a car or two. The drivers are road conscious and polite towards other drivers and stop and give way to pedestrians crossing the road. No harsh driving, no unnecessary road hogging and no rash overtaking; and everyone obeys the road rules. All use the fantastic GPS for guidance and direction.

Spacious non-congested landscape with houses built with light materials, looking bleak and drab outside. Almost all houses look alike with mostly painted – no vivid or vasthu colours that we see in India.

Since it is winter not much of green foliage could be seen.

Though the sun is shining, the outside temperature chills the bone. Here I give the lowest temperatures in degrees Celsius for the past 4 days: 13th: 2, 14th: -3, 15th: -4 and today (16th) it was -7 at 8am (it would have been colder outside while we slept) and now at noon it is -1. Inside the car we need the heater for warmth. Inside the house a steady temperature of 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit is maintained throughout day and night.

001 (1024x768)002 (1024x768)003 (1024x768)004 (1024x768)005 (1024x768)006 (1024x768)007 (1024x768)008 (1024x768)009 (1024x768)010 (1024x768)011 (1024x768)012 (1024x768)013 (1024x768)014 (1024x768)015 (1024x768)016 (1024x768)017 (1024x768)018 (1024x768)019 (1024x768)020 (1024x768)021 (1024x768)022 (1024x768)

Add this anywhere