Remembering Australia’s Polio scourge – by Professor Joan McMeeken, University of Melbourne

The movie Breathe reminds us of the days when polio indiscriminately cut down the fit and healthy, so what was it like in Australia for those who contracted the disease?

Houses were fumigated, people quarantined, and entire families ostracised. Desperately worried parents resorted to hanging pungent camphor around their children’s necks in a misguided effort to ward off the virus and some fled to the mountains to escape.

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