Polioforever's Blog

Provo Utah

In the fall of 1951, Dr. William McDowell Hammon tested gamma globulin for polio prevention on over 5,700 Provo area children. Provo was a hot zone for NTS fallout in addition to being on the eastern edge of the Dugway Proving Grounds, home to the Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Weapons School. Dugway was a receiving terminus for nuclear waste and a site for open-air testing of biological warfare agents.

Part III of Polio Then, Now and Forever http://www.rocfern.com/jennlake/PolioThen,Now,andForeverPartIII.html

1951 was an extraordinarily busy year for the health establishment. The CDC created the Epidemic Inteligence Service. Rockefeller friend Jock Whitney donated property for the future New York Jewish Health System. Polyoma virus had just been discovered –its SV40 monkey virus subtype contaminated the Salk and Sabin vaccines that followed in 1953-54. New human cancer cells, called HeLa, were harvested and distributed to labs for poliovirus research. The Tuskegee Institute created a HeLa factory for this purpose. In the Capitol, Drs. Morton Biskind and Ralph Scobey testified to the Senate that pesticides were causing polio.
   Utah since 1947 was uniquely poised to undergo a uranium boom that followed the July 1952 discovery of Charles A. Steen near Moab, the “far country” to the east bordering Colorado, who “struck the biggest deposits of high-grade uranium ore in the country…” http://historytogo.utah.gov/utah_chapters/utah_today/utahsuraniumboom.html. “Moab’s economy was originally based on agriculture, but gradually shifted to mining. Uranium and vanadium were discovered in the area in the 1910s and 1920s. Potash and manganese came next, and then oil and gas were discovered. In the 1950s Moab became the so-called ‘Uranium Capital of the World’ “… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moab,_Utah?oldid=  ; “The drilling reached an all time high in 1956…” http://www.canyoncountryzephyr.com/oldzephyr/aug-sept2002/steen4.htm; but the 1952 uranium boom in Utah folds into another story that’s emerging from polio research: the JFK assassination plot based on the evidence of nuclear trafficking.

 Dugway Proving Grounds




 William McDowell Hammon, Dean of the Berkeley (Calif.) School of Public Health, 1946 http://sph.berkeley.edu/friends/deans.php Chief of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health.

William McDowell Hammon was born in Ohio and entered Allegheny College for study but interrupted his studies for a long period abroad as a ‘missionary’; first to Brussels and then a four-year stint in the Belgian Congo as the director of a medical dispensary. He later returned to Allegheny and graduated in 1932, enrolling next at Harvard for an MD which he received in 1936. During WWII, Hammon was appointed to the AFEB as a consultant to the Surgeon General, taking up membership on the Commission on Tropical Diseases in 1946 where he served in Japan, Korea and China as an official of the USArmy, USPHS, and NIH. At the same time he was the dean of UCBerkeley School of Public Health.  By 1950, Hammon was the chief of Epidemiology at the Univ. of Pittsburgh’s School of Public Health, appointed by Surgeon General Thomas Parran, where he spent the remainder of his career until retirement in 1973. http://nytimes.com/1989/09/23/obituaries/dr-william-hammon-dies-at-85-a-pioneer-in-fight-against-polio.html. At Pittsburgh Hammon oversaw the IPV work of Jonas Salk.
The gamma globulin trials, begun in Provo, were an extension of the work of Hammon’s colleague, Joseph Stokes Jr. who had been testing G.G. as a polio preventive for more than 20 years. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,806555-1,00.html “Gamma globulin injections were hailed as a breakthrough in the war against polio. But Dr. Hammon cautioned against overrating the treatment, pointing out that its protection was only temporary.” Hammon said,”it gives only ‘passive’, short-lived immunity (five weeks protection from an average dose). ‘Active’, permanent immunity must still be developed by each individual in fighting off a mild attack by the poliovirus –the kind of attack that often goes unnoticed or is mistaken for a cold.”
Joseph Stokes Jr., Hammon’s inspiration and colleague, came from a physician family of Pennsylvania Quakers. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with the highest grades in the history of the school –a perfect score– and received his academic appointment at UPenn in 1939 where he “introduced the first diagnostic virus laboratory into any clinical department in [the] United States.” http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/50/1/163 Stokes became the Chair of Pediatrics and the Physician-in-Chief of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Stokes Jr. did extensive experimentation with infectious microbes and toxins such as viral hepatitis and measles.
[Joseph Stokes III http://content.cdlib.org/xtf/view?docId=hb4p30063r&doc.view=frames&chunk.id=div00062&toc.depth=1&toc.id, first dean of the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine in 1964, preceeding the charter of the first class. UCSD medical was in partnership with the Salk and Scripps Institutes.]
Lasker Award for SurgeonGeneral “1947 Thomas Parran, M.D. Special Award for outstanding leadership in public health administration; as Surgeon General of the U.S.; as President of the International Health Conference, which resulted in the establishment of WHO; and for his contributions to the control of venereal disease.” http://www.laskerfoundation.org/awards/formaward.htm
Lewis L. Coriell, colleague and GG trial participant:..”Following service in the Army at Fort Detrick during World War II, Dr. Coriell served a Fellowship with Dr. Joseph Stokes, Jr., Chief of Staff of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia….he was chosen by the National Poliomyelitis Foundation to evaluate the Salk polio virus vaccine clinical trials in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.”..”He was the driving force behind the organization and development of the New Jersey Cancer Commission.” http://www.coriell.org/index.php/index.php/content/view/34/83/

Operation Buster-Jangle, Nevada Test Site, Oct/Nov 1951

             Desert Rock Series



Declassified Documents http://web.archive.org/web/20071109085320/www.aracnet.com/~pdxavets/bustdoc.htm


Utah was selected as one of four centers [nationwide] funded to develop a polio vaccine; the breakthroughs came in Pittsburgh in 1953 and Cincinnati in 1954″

Area Hospitals were pulling things together: [Ogden, 1951] “By August, just four months after he became admnistrator, Mr. Knapp began planning a floor-by-floor renovation of the hospital. [He said] ‘I put away half of every dollar’… the hospital borrowed money from the LDS Church…With the polio epidemic of 1951 taking lives and crippling others, Mr Knapp added a polio ward… By April 1952, the Board of Trustees approved a 10-year, $523,000 modernization program..to include a new neuropsychiatric division… growth necessitated eleven major additions to the hospital during the 1950s..” http://intermountainhealthcare.org/hospitals/mckaydee/about/history/Pages/change.aspx

Medical History in Utah:   “In 1920 a new red brick building on the university [of Utah] campus, constructed by the army as a dormitory for military officers during the World War I, was turned over to the medical school and served as the basic science building until 1965. With the nation’s entry into World War II in 1941, pressure was exerted by the AMA and the US Army to convert the two-year school to a full four-year medical school, since none existed between Denver and San Francisco. The expansion was approved in 1942, and the Salt Lake General Hospital at 21st South and State streets, the state’s only public hospital, was designated as the university’s teaching facility. Dr. A.C. Callister, a practicing surgeon appointed part-time dean in 1942, was surprisingly successful in recruiting a small but outstanding group of physicians, teachers, and researchers”…  http://www.onlineutah.com/medicinehistory.shtml

Provo’s only facility was the former Territorial Insane Asylum, founded in 1885 http://www.hsush.utah.gov/history.htm ; “From its origin the purpose of the Hospital was to treat the mentally ill and to return them to a normal level of functioning. In spite of their best efforts, however, in its early days the facility was little more than a human warehouse. In fact, by 1955 the population at the hospital was over 1,500 patients.”…”with the creation in 1969, of community mental health centers [n]ow residents throughout Utah can receive mental health services in their own community. The Hospital has changed its role from the only mental health treatment facility into a supporting role for the community mental health centers.”
According to the retrospective by Charles Rinaldo, the proposition for the Provo gamma globulin trials came under consideration in 1950, initially contentious for lacking in sufficient test data which was only just completed in July of 1951. The hastily contrived GG trial was approved by Provo officials on August 30 and the team moved in to begin inoculations on September 4. On the fourth day (Sept.8) they ran out of GG. Although the public was told that gamma globulin was protective for five weeks, the trial lasted 84 more days after the administration of the shots –until December 1, 1951– two days after the last detonation test at Nevada. The ‘inconclusive’ GG trial was considered practice although it was referred to in the documentation as the ‘pilot study’. Bearing on actual events of fallout, Air Force pilots were considered the personnel most at risk, required to fly through the mushroom clouds in ‘simulated’ nuclear war. As Health Physics records show, much of the plutonium injection experiments that were uncovered in 1993 were designed to assess radiation effects in USAF career pilots who were older (45-50), matching the age selection of unwitting experiment victims.
Fallout maps below show that most of the radioactive clouds blew south until the very last two, which streamed over the Provo/Salt Lake region. By then, the proscribed GG trial was over. Hammon and the pre-publicity had stated that GG protection would last only 5 to six weeks but other data suggesting up to 3 months (and even 6)  neatly covers the actual observation period and the duration of Operation Buster-Jangle. The public announcement of the so-called 5 week duration of GG protection maintained the illusion of polio as a ‘summer disease’.  [Note to readers: if Fallout ‘cloud track’ maps are deactivated or removed, theywillbereplaced]
 The Gamma Globulin trials”  http://www.ajph.org/cgi/content/full/95/5/790 

Publicity, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,806555-1,00.html


Operation Ranger in January 1951 showed the same basic fallout pattern as the B-J shot ‘Easy’.

BUSTER-JANGLE – 7 detonations
Oct 22 – ABLE: fizzle
Oct 28 – BAKER: 3.5 kiloton (kt)
Oct 30 – CHARLIE: 14 kt; map unavailable
Nov 1  – DOG: 21 kt; all fallout streamed S.E. over Tuscon area, southcentral Texas, north Louisisana, up the Appalachian corridor to the N.E.
Nov 5  – EASY: 31 kt; lower fallout blew west in a circle over California (Los Angeles, points north, to San Francisco) turning NE (Utah, WY, Neb., SD, Canada); a midlevel stream blew straight across Nebraska, Iowa,etc. to the Atlantic; higher majority fallout swept S.E. toward Tuscon, arching across southern Texas, Gulf of Mexico and northern Florida. Houston Tx and Sioux City Iowa were chosen for next GG trials in 1952-53.
Nov19 -SUGAR: 1.2 kt cratering effects test (Provo/Salt Lake fallout)
Nov29 -UNCLE: 1.2 kt, first underground test (Provo/Salt Lake fallout)


Two of the ‘cloud track’ maps are missing from this series

CHARLIE shot (map unavailable) October 30, 1951 – 14 kilotons





662. [Pubmed/MEDLINE]

Evaluation of Red Cross gamma globulin as a prophylactic agent for poliomyelitis. I. Plan of controlled field tests and results of 1951 pilot study in Utah.


J Am Med Assoc. 1952 Oct 25;150(8):739-49. No abstract available. PMID: 12980832 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]Related article


Evaluation of Red Cross gamma globulin as a prophylactic agent for poliomyelitis. 2. Conduct and early follow-up of 1952 Texas and Iowa-Nebraska studies.


J Am Med Assoc. 1952 Oct 25;150(8):750-6. No abstract available. PMID: 12980833 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]Related articles


Evaluation of Red Cross gamma globulin as a prophylactic agent for poliomyelitis. 3. Preliminary report of results based on clinical diagnosis.


J Am Med Assoc. 1952 Oct 25;150(8):757-60. No abstract available. PMID: 12980834 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]Related articles


Evaluation of Red Cross gamma globulin as a prophylactic agent for poliomyelitis. IV. Final report of results based on clinical diagnoses.


J Am Med Assoc. 1953 Apr 11;151(15):1272-85. No abstract available. PMID: 13034471 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]Related articles


Dr. Paul F. Wehrle, who participated in GG assessment, is cited in other polio studies :  ..[1956]  “Hospital personnel caring for acute poliomyelitis patients were studied for serologic evidence of infection by the 3 types of poliomyelitis virus during 1 poliomyelitis season. Although nearly one-third of the personnel were presumably susceptible to the types of poliomyelitis virus present in the cases and an additional and slightly smaller proportion had antibody in low titer, there was no evidence of transfer of infection”…http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/17/2/237


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