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 Post subject: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 17 Aug 2012, 12:26 
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I've just been re-reading Challenge and it struck me that the polio vaccination programme should have been well under way by 1966, the date of publication. While I realise there is some lag by this stage in the series, I'd be surprised if Phil was born before 1960 so she should have been routinely vaccinated for polio. It's hard to believe Jack Maynard would not have been a vaccination supporter. So it would be extraordinarily bad luck for Phil, unless she had one of those tragic cases of iatrogenic polio caused by the vaccination.

On the other hand, perhaps Jack and Jem suppressed all knowledge of vaccination in order to keep the San going, given that the BCG dates from the 1920s. :twisted: Although they seemed keen enough on smallpox vaccination in Theodora. Probably just an EBDism, but given her evident interest in medical issues I'm surprised polio vaccination isn't even discussed.


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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 17 Aug 2012, 12:29 
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Well, the general consensus on here is that the end of the books is 1958/9. So based on that by that time Phil would have been born 1954/5.

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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 17 Aug 2012, 12:37 
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I know book-wise it would be mid 50s but I think EBD set the books in the time of writing. I think that EBD possibly wasn't aware of vaccines as she was always a little behind the times.


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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 17 Aug 2012, 13:14 
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The last major epidemic in the UK was 1957 (there was a paper in the BMJ subsequent to the one I was supposed to be reading).

The vaccine was introduced in 1958 - we were at the GP's surgery before our feet touched the ground. I still have my card confirming that I had been immunised. No sugar lumps in those days.

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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 17 Aug 2012, 13:46 
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When I was at secondary school in the mid sixties, a girl in my year developed polio. It happened over half term so the school was closed for a few extra days. She made a good recovery and returned to school


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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 17 Aug 2012, 16:45 
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I've always struggled with the 'Phil has polio' storyline too: in my childood there was such a drive to eradicate it that I can't believe Jack and Jem didn't know of it. Like Mel I'd always put it down to EMBD being a little out of date with such things despite her interest in things medical (ISTR that the school has an outbreak of scarlet fever fairly late in the day, that seemed pretty unlikely too).

And thank you judithR - my polio vaccinations were all by needle too, and most people simply don't believe that!


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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 17 Aug 2012, 18:14 
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I think it's a bit unfair to carp at EBD's not including the polio vaccine in a story set in 1954/55 (if that is when Phil was born). The Salk vaccine was only revealed to the world in 1955, the Sabin (oral) even later. And I am not sure that either of them were given to babies anyway.

For once she probably got it right! :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 18 Aug 2012, 20:33 
I wonder where Phil got polio from? It's spread by teh oral-faecal route so she'd have had to have had direct contact with the bacillus somewhere along the line and it means that someone somewhere hadn't washed their hands properly.

Years ago I saw that TV programme where those 2 ladies go into dirty houses and clean them up. Before they clean they take swabs and present the occupants with the results of swabs taken from their bathrooms and so on. I remember this programme was set on a house-boat where a family with young children lived. The bathroom was carpeted and the area around the loo was disgusting. Anyway, swabs taken grew typhoid. I don't know how that would have got there at all. It must mean that someone carried it in from somewhere or other.

When people are vaccinated against polio, for a while they excrete active polio baccili faecally. If the person changing the child's nappies isn't careful with their own personl hygiene they can catch polio from their vaccinated child. This has happened in London before (a man caught it after looking after his baby for a while).

Anyway, I do wonder where Phil got it from.


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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 18 Aug 2012, 21:14 
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EBD wanted Phil to have a severe type of illness, she chose Polio, so consequently, Phil got Polio. EBD probably wasn't aware how it was spread. She wanted a side plot to make Joey worried, and this was it.

I'll let others discuss the possibilities of whatever in the range of the CS universe if they want to. But that's not how I think.

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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 18 Aug 2012, 21:41 
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Polio was very common in the first half of the 20th century. I know one of my great-aunts had it as a child, although she was older than Phil so she probably caught it at school. Cherry Christy had it as well.

As we kept being told during the swine flu epidemic, it's very easy to catch germs by touching something like a door handle in a public place which has been touched by an infected person who hadn't washed their hands. Polio can also, as I understand it, it can also be caught via the "coughs and sneezes spread diseases route". There's no mention of an epidemic in the area and it seems strange that Phil seems to've been the only person affected, but she could have got it anywhere - maybe at the shops, or from playing with other kids (the measles outbreak in Tyrol is blamed on visiting kids who'd been playing with the Die Rosen kids). I don't think EBD intended us to worry too much about the Maynard family's standards of toilet hygiene!

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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 18 Aug 2012, 21:49 
julieanne1811 wrote:
I wonder where Phil got polio from? It's spread by teh oral-faecal route so she'd have had to have had direct contact with the bacillus somewhere along the line and it means that someone somewhere hadn't washed their hands properly.


I didn't know that was how it was transmitted, although there was a terrible outbreak in my hometown when my parents were teenagers, and mass panic, children being kept in, large sports events etc cancelled. It would have been considerably more unusual, surely, for a child who lived on a comparatively remote mountain shelf to contract it, compared to a child in a crowded urban environment? You would wonder about the source of infection in Phil's case, especially as she's so young she's not at school and doesn't apear to leave home much at all, and there's no suggestion of other cases on the Platz or in Montreux.


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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 18 Aug 2012, 21:58 
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Thanks for the info, Julieanne, I didn't know how it was spread. I do remember at Junior School (1960-ish) we seemed to be forever lining up for polio jabs, we certainly had boosters, maybe there was an outbreak nearby. I think EBD chose it because of its prevalence at the time, whereas typhoid was exotic, smallpox too dangerous and she perhaps felt she had overdone TB...though that would have been the obvious choice, surely? I haven't read the last 3 or 4 books - how does Phil end up? Oh, and I do wish they had used her full, really pretty name!


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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 19 Aug 2012, 14:31 
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With microbiologist hat on - erm actually it's a virus. We do have immunologists on the board, could any oblige re A, B & C strains & differences between killed & attenuated viruses & how immunity is conferred by oral vs IM (?) vaccines?

Takes hat off & tries to remember immunology lectures from 1960s

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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 19 Aug 2012, 16:13 
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In the fifties, we children were always warned to keep away from water, and not go swimming in it, because of the fear of catching polio. Even public swimming baths were regarded with suspicion, I seem to recall. No idea if the scientific knowledge at the time was correct or not, though.

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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 19 Aug 2012, 18:22 
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MaryR wrote:
In the fifties, we children were always warned to keep away from water, and not go swimming in it, because of the fear of catching polio. Even public swimming baths were regarded with suspicion, I seem to recall. No idea if the scientific knowledge at the time was correct or not, though.

Yes, I can remember the total panic that my father got into when I developed a high temperature a couple of days after swimming in a hotel pool.

He died in 1952 so it must have predated that.

It wasn't polio I am glad to say :)

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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 19 Aug 2012, 19:11 
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LucyP wrote:
I haven't read the last 3 or 4 books - how does Phil end up? Oh, and I do wish they had used her full, really pretty name!


Phil (I much prefer Pippa as a short for a Philippa) seemed to make a very good recovery, unlike Cherry Christy who had to use crutches for a long time afterwards. A bit OT but I think Cherry's story's fascinating - we're told that she was very outgoing before her illness, and that and her relationship with Kester Bellever would make a very good drabble if anyone feels like writing it :D . It would have been interesting to see her move to Switzerland and become part of the Gang, but maybe her parents (unlike Naomi's inconsiderate aunt) realised that the Swiss CS wasn't an ideal environment for someone with mobility problems.

I gather that the risk of longer-term problems is higher is older children, so it seems realistic that Phil didn't have the same issues as Cherry.

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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 19 Aug 2012, 20:34 
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Thanks, Alison. I find the Cherry story very realistic, it's much better written than the later Naomi one. She's a very believable little girl, and while I think they were right not to send her to Switzerland, I would like to have watched her blossom. I wonder did she go to St Mildred's?


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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 20 Aug 2012, 12:53 
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Noreen wrote:
And thank you judithR - my polio vaccinations were all by needle too, and most people simply don't believe that!


So were mine! Although not the final one when I was leaving school - that was on a sugar-lump. And we walked back from the school san, and were walking faster and faster, practically running by the time we arrived back at the boarding-house to get our mouths under a cold tap to wash the frightful after-taste away!

Yes, polio was the sort of illness that it was more usual to know someone who had had it than not, if you see what I mean. A girl - well, woman - in my parents' village who was a stalwart of every village "do" was a wheelchair user, and we miss her so much now she is no longer with us. And I know at least two others who had it, on who more or less "got away with it", and one who had to wear a leg-brace all the time. I think later she had the leg amputated, as a prosthetic was a better option.


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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 20 Aug 2012, 13:32 
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I remember needles too - the 'polio prick' we used to call it. In later life I needed a booster for some foreign travel which the doctor administered neat on the tongue with the offer of a sweet to follow. I waved away the sweet thinking he was being ridiculous but fell on them afterwards. Truly vile!


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 Post subject: Re: Phil Maynard's polio
PostPosted: 20 Aug 2012, 22:13 
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I too had the polio vaccine by injection - 3 of them - but I was already in first year university, (1958) I think there was a campaign around then to immunise as many uni students as possible. The first 2 were OK, but I remember my arm being very sore after the last one!
I also recall warnings against swimming in the sea, or at swimming baths, for fear of polio. I seem to think there was quite a serious outbreak on the Isle of Wight one summer in the mid-50s, but I could be mistaken.


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