Polio Place

A service of Post-Polio Health International


A mistaken diagnosis

Robert Brown; Draper, Utah

When I was about two or three months old, I became deathly ill with serious flu-like symptoms that caused my temperature to rise and hang around 106°, and just wouldn't get better despite all the doctor's advice. My mom said that I was diagnosed with roseola and was treated accordingly. After a long stretch of high fever, I seemed to get better. My father and mother both worked in Redding, California, where I was born, so my grandmother would take care of me. I had very young parents. My mom was just barely 17, and my dad, just home from combat duties during the Korean War, was about 21.

After about two or three months, my grandmother noticed that my previously very active leg-kicking had noticeably decreased, my little legs showing almost no movement. My left leg was not growing the same as the right leg and was turning inward. My grandmother asked my mom if she had noticed this. She had and was very concerned. My mom happened to be a bookkeeper for a local doctor and took me in one day for him to evaluate my legs. The first words out of his mouth were that I had had polio and had been misdiagnosed with roseola. He immediately put me in the casts (see image, right) and had me sent to Shriners in San Francisco about 200 miles south to confirm with the specialist there who was an expert on the poliovirus and its after effects. It was confirmed that I had been infected with the poliovirus and that my leg problems were the result of that. He then treated me as best as he could. For about the next four years, I would make frequent visits there


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