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American Experience

The Polio Crusade

Season 21 Episode 2 | 52m 1s | WETA Passport

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In the summer of 1950 Wytheville, VA realized the nation's worst medical fears. An outbreak of Infantile Paralysis, commonly known as Polio, swept through a small town of 5,500 in which 40 percent of residents had not yet reached their eighteenth birthday. Highly contagious, just in time for summer vacation, the devastating neurodegenerative disease had chosen its next target.

Aired: 03/31/20 | Expires: 03/29/23 | Rating: TV-PG

Corporate sponsorship for American Experience is provided by Liberty Mutual Insurance. Major funding by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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The Chinese Six Companies

On May 28, 1900, San Francisco policemen formed a perimeter around Chinatown as officials diagnosed bubonic plague in the neighborhood and wanted to quarantine the nearly 20,000 residents. As tensions flared, an influential group of merchants known as the Chinese Six Companies sprang into action.

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