When the polio virus hit Europe in 1947, the world had not yet seen a pandemic.
Germany was one of the last countries in the world to have its population fully vaccinated against the disease.
In the United States, the vaccine had already been approved in the late 1940s.
But the outbreak had the potential to spread throughout the world.
Europe had never seen a single case of polio in the United Kingdom, for example, nor had any in Russia.
The pandemic was even worse than the 1918 pandemic that paralyzed Europe, killing nearly a million people and destroying tens of millions of homes.
The first outbreak of polio occurred in Germany, where it killed an estimated 10,000 people.
In many other countries, outbreaks were rare, and only about one in 500 cases were reported.
By the time the pandemic reached the United Nations, the World Health Organization estimated that half the world’s population was still suffering polio.
With so many people in danger of catching the virus, the polio eradication campaign became one of Europe’s most complex and controversial projects.
For many countries, polio eradicating the disease meant eradicating entire populations.
But for Germany, it meant making the whole country polio-free.
“A German man who contracted polio while working in the mines of the Bavarian Alps and had to be quarantined for three months, as well as a German woman who contracted the disease while working as a maid in a German brothel, were among the first cases of polio,” a 2014 report by the German Ministry of Health said.
“These cases were among 2,716 people reported to the national health care authorities, including the 2,912 who had to undergo further evaluation and treatment in the hospitals.”
In 1947, Germany had a population of just more than two million people.
By 1950, Germany was home to a population that swelled to almost three million.
In 1949, more than 200,000 Germans were vaccinated.
But there were still some 3,000 cases of the polio.
The country was still not polio-proof.
“The vaccine was only given to a few people, mostly in the factories and mines, and most of the people were in the beginning months of the epidemic,” Dr. Klaus Köhler, the director of the National Institute of Public Health and Public Health Surveillance in Berlin, told Al Jazeera.
“But we saw the incidence of polio rise.
There was a real danger that some people would go into hiding.
So we were very worried.”
The National Institute for Public Health was tasked with tracking the epidemic in Germany.
Dr. Köhl told Al-Jazeera that the first case of the disease in Germany was reported in the autumn of 1948.
He said that by the beginning of 1949, the number of cases was at least five times higher than at the beginning.
He added that the vaccine was distributed at the same time as the outbreak was unfolding.
In some parts of Germany, the government did not even use the vaccine, he said.
The vaccine was given to people who had previously contracted polio.
“I was a doctor who worked at a vaccination centre for people who were immunized with the polio vaccine,” Köln said.
He described the fear that many people felt, and how they felt about being forced to vaccinate their entire community.
In April 1949, a German doctor named Ernst Molnar was the first person to be declared polio-negative.
His case was reported to authorities in May.
Within a few weeks, the German public began to believe that the virus had been eradicated in the country.
In fact, polio was not only eliminated from Germany but was also spreading throughout the European Union.
In Europe, the total number of confirmed cases of disease rose from just under 1,000 in Germany to about 2,500 by 1951.
That’s when the European Commission began to distribute polio vaccines in all 28 member states of the European Economic Area.
At the same date, the United Nation’s World Health Assembly declared the eradication of polio as a global priority.
In 1952, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Europe was free to vaccine its citizens, and that people should be able to use the disease-control measures they needed without having to hide from authorities.
The Court also ordered that Europe should ensure that children were vaccinated against polio.
But even as polio was being declared a global health emergency, polio continued to thrive.
The World Health Organisation estimated that one in 10 children worldwide was vaccinated in 1950, but the virus was still prevalent.
By 1960, the country was home the world-wide total of 1.3 million polio cases.
In 1961, more people had died from polio than from any other cause.
“By the mid-1970s, polio had spread throughout Europe, with an estimated 5,000 deaths from the disease,” Al Jazeera’s Jonathan Head reported in 2009.
“It had become so widespread, in many