Historical information

This public notice of 1935 warns of the dangers of Infantile Paralysis. It advises scalding dairy products and reporting stock illness, even though the disease was viral (discovered by U.S. researchers in 1908), not bacterial. There was little chance of protecting children against contracting the disease as the Salk vaccine was not available until 1955, although medical research into the development of preventative serum was well advanced in the 1940's. Treatment of the disease was primitive and a cure not possible.


Infantile paralysis was a fearful disease increasingly prevalent in the early 20th Century. Children under 3 were especially susceptible. It could be said to be forever associated with this part of the Western District as a result of the celebrated author, Alan Marshall (1902-1984) suffering its effects. He immortalised his childhood, which was profoundly affected by his paralysis, in the autobiograhical novel 'I can jump puddles'.

Physical description

Calico rectangle off white

Inscriptions & markings

"Shire of Hampden. Recommendations by the Medical Officer of Health. During the last few weeks eighteen cases of INFANTILE PARALYSIS have occurred in this district. PARENTS are advised to seek Medical advice early in any case of sickness. It is not wise while this sickness is about to treat sick people by home remedies for a few days, for the mild fever-headache, &c., may be the early stage of INFANTILE PARALYSIS, and if a doctor is consulted then he has his best chance of protecting the patient from paralysis. All persons in the district are advised to scald all milk and cream used in the home, even that taken by adults. The people in the district may help solve the puzzle of where this disease comes from, by reporting at once to the Stock Inspector any sickness among the animals. SHIRE OFFICE, CAMPERDOWN, 22nd March, 1935. THOS.F.LITTLE, Secretary, Shire of Hampden."