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Battling polio outbreak

Battling polio outbreak

Nov. 4, 1948: A mobile crew sprays a cloud of insect-killing DDT in the alleys of Santa Monica after an outbreak of polio.

This photo accompanied a Nov. 5, 1948, article in the Los Angeles Times reporting:

There was death for flies and other disease-spreading insects in the fog that was being sprayed yesterday by the crew of a jeep, but human beings and animals could breathe it safely, for it was the nontoxic solution of DDT and lephane in a mixture of oil and water.

Santa Monica’s 100 miles of alleys are being sprayed in an insect-abatement program launched by City Manager Randall M. Dorton. …

The war on insects started when four children were stricken with polio within an area of one city block containing an abandoned home that was partially destroyed by fire. Dorton said that Santa Monica alleys are as well kept as any, but the city intends to make them even better.

Polio has almost been eliminated by vaccines developed in the 1950s. Check out this previous From the Archive post on polio immunization.

DDT was used in World War II to control malaria and typhus, but in 1972, it was banned in the United States.


  1. July 26, 2012, 9:46 am

    With today's knowledge you can't judge yesterday's actions as ignorant.

  2. July 26, 2012, 2:07 pm

    Shows how ignorant they were in understanding what transmits polio !!! It's not insects !!!


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