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The 1940s Medicine and Health: Chronology

1940:     August 28 The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis sends aid to Indiana, where there is a massive poliomyelitis (polio) outbreak.

1940:     December An influenza epidemic begins in California and spreads to Oregon, Washington State, New Mexico, Arizona, and Idaho.

1941:      Clinical trials of penicillin begin.

1941:     March 25 The most serious measles epidemic in years breaks out along the East Coast and begins to spread westward across America.

1941:     March 27 Residents of New York are offered preventive medical care and treatment for $24 a year by the non-profit organization Group Health Association, Inc.

1941:     May 5 After successful trials, penicillin is unveiled to the public.

1941:     September A nationwide polio epidemic kills eighty-seven people.

1942:      The American Red Cross begins collecting blood to help battlefield casualties.

1942:      The Kenny method of treating polio by massage is hotly disputed within the medical profession.

1942:     June Promising progress is made toward developing a vaccine against whooping cough.

1942:     October 16 In Georgia, health officials call for all victims of sexually transmitted diseases to be kept in isolation.

1943:      The antibiotic streptomycin is discovered.

1943:     July A polio epidemic spreads through Texas, California, Washington State, Kansas, and New York.

1943:     September 8 The American Chemical Society announces the discovery of "Penicillin B." The new drug is ten times more powerful than standard penicillin.

1943:     November 3 The U.S. Census Bureau announces that 163,400 Americans died from cancer in 1942.

1943:     November 25 The Schenley Distillers Corporation develops a new and more efficient method of making penicillin.

1944:     March 3 The drug Benzedrene, a prescription amphetamine, is used by military pilots to keep them awake on long missions.

1944:     June 15 The American Medical Association (AMA) files a report criticizing the Kenny massage method of treating polio.

1944:     August 26 The New York State Hospital Commission announces the success of electroshock treatments in helping mental patients to lead normal lives.

1945:     February Penicillin that can be taken orally is introduced.

1945:     March 23 The U.S. Census Bureau announces that twice as many Americans have died of cancer in 1944 as in the year 1900.

1945:     May 23 Typhus patients are treated successfully with streptomycin for the first time.

1945:     December 16 A new sulfa drug, metachloride, proves successful in treating malaria.

1946:      The American Academy of Dental Medicine is founded.

1946:      The first synthetic penicillin is produced.

1946:     August 9 The U.S. Public Health Service announces that the country is in the grip of the worst polio epidemic since 1916.

1946:     October 27 Reported cases of syphilis increased by 42 percent in the twelve months ending June 30, 1946.

1947:     February 10 In a poll for the Planned Parenthood Federation, 97.8 percent of American doctors say they are in favor of birth control.

1947:     March 18 Children born in the aftermath of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, have an unusually high number of abnormalities, according to a report by the Atomic Bomb Casualties Commission.

1947:     July 19 The University of Illinois announces that it will soon begin the first large-scale production of BCG, a vaccine for tuberculosis.

1947:     October 3 The American Association of Science Workers states that bacteriological warfare is now the world's most important terror weapon.

1948:     May 3 At the University of Minnesota, the polio virus is isolated in concentrated form for the first time.

1948:     August 10 The American Cancer Society announces that $3.5 million will be spent on cancer research in the coming year.

1948:     October 18 In New York City, an experiment begins to see if fluoride prevents tooth decay. Fifty thousand children have their teeth coated with sodium fluoride.

1948:     December 20 Five nuclear scientists are found to be going blind because of their work with radioactive materials.

1949:     February 27 The American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute issue a report linking smoking with lung cancer.

1949:     August 12 The U.S. Public Health Service announces that the average life span of Americans has risen to 66.8 years, up from 65 years in 1939.

The 1940s Medicine and Health: Chronology

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The 1940s Medicine and Health: Chronology