In 1773, the selectmen ordered all houses where the disease had appeared to be closed, and dogs to be killed immediately. The fears of the inhabitants increased when permission was granted to build a smallpox hospital on Cat Island.
An estimated 1,500 cases of the so-called “Spanish flu in Ipswich resulted in at least 66 deaths. It is believed that the country reached herd immunity after the virus mutated to a less lethal variant. By the end of the pandemic, the average life expectancy had been shortened by 12 years!
Polio killed 3,145 people in the United States in 1952 and crippled tens of thousands. Children were kept inside, and public health officials imposed quarantines. From 1956 – 57 over 6000 Ipswich children and adults received the new Salk polio vaccine, and in 1962, Ipswich residents received the oral Sabin vaccine. Since 1979, no cases of polio have originated in the United States. David Lindgren tells what it was like in 1949, “the Summer of Polio.”