In 1910, a young girl was taken to a hospital in Hamilton, Ont. with a suspected case of rabies. It wasn’t until after her death that clinicians discovered what was actually wrong: She’d somehow contracted polio, marking the grim start of Canada’s first outbreak of the contagious viral illness, which wound up paralyzing — or killing — tens of thousands of Canadians. In 1953 alone, the year the disease peaked, 9,000 children across the country were infected, and 500 died.

 

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