Five strains of virus were recovered from nasal washings and feces. Four strains were of human origin, the fifth strain came from a monkey sacrificed at the height of the disease. Of the four human strains the first was isolated from the feces of a 14 year old child 7 days after the onset of illness. The second strain was from the nasal washings of a 6½ year old child, 5 days after the onset of illness. The third and fourth strains were recovered from the same patient, a 2½ year old child, 9 days after the onset of illness. One of these strains was obtained from nasopharyngeal washings and the other from the feces. The single monkey strain was isolated from the upper intestinal segment and appears to be the only instance of its isolation from this source in the literature.
We believe that the detection of the virus in the nasal washings of two additional patients during convalescence lends further support to the belief that the virus of poliomyelitis is spread by human contact.
Furthermore, the recovery of the virus from the gastro-intestinal tract with as great or greater frequency as from the upper respiratory tract, need not, it appears to us, alter our concept of the mode of entrance of the virus into the body, namely, by way of the upper respiratory tract. If the presence of the virus is conceded, then a consideration of the physiologic passage of nasal and oral secretions into the gastro-intestinal tract by reflex swallowing would serve to explain adequately the presence of the virus in those organs. It might even be further predicated that since the gastro-intestinal tract functions as a temporary reservoir for secretions from the upper respiratory tract, the gut should, after a time, contain the virus in higher concentration than any single sample of secretion obtained from the upper respiratory tract by nasal washing. It appears to us that failures to detect the virus in the gastro-intestinal tract are perhaps more indicative of inadequate procedures for its detection than of its absence.
The recovery of the virus from the feces 7 and 9 days after the onset of illness takes on added significance. It indicates first, that the virus withstands the gastric acidity which under normal physiological conditions tends to keep gastric contents relatively free of bacteria. It further suggests that improper disposal of feces from patients with poliomyelitis may have serious public health consequences, particularly in smaller communities where inadequate sewage disposal may result in contamination of surrounding beaches or even local water systems.