Early Uses of Diphtheria Antitoxin in the United States

The transition to use of diphtheria antitoxin to treat ill humans happened quickly. It’s hard to identify exactly when it was first used. Introduction One of the fascinating things about the history of vaccinology is how quickly late 19th century researchers moved from identifying microbes as the cause of certain diseases to developing ways to[…]

Smallpox and After: An Early History of the Treatment and Prevention of Infections

Introduction The scientific work that led to the discovery of the causes of infections was possibly the major biomedical advance of the nineteenth century. From it was derived the aseptic technique of Lister, the use of antitoxins and immunisation, and the ultimately successful search for chemicals selectively toxic to bacterial cells. The conquest of most[…]

A History of the Yellow Fever Vaccine

The close of the 19th century also witnessed dramatic discoveries in the new science of bacteriology that would transform medicine forever. Introduction After failed attempts at producing bacteria-based vaccines, the discovery of a viral agent causing yellow fever and its isolation in monkeys opened new avenues of research. Subsequent advances were the attenuation of the[…]

The Cutter Incident: How Our First Polio Vaccine Led to a Growing Vaccine Crisis

The Cutter Incident led in part to the development of a polio vaccine that was more dangerous. By Dr. Michael FitzpatrickGeneral PractitionerBarton House Health Centre In April 1955 more than 200 000 children in five Western and mid-Western USA states received a polio vaccine in which the process of inactivating the live virus proved to[…]

A History of Polio: A 20th-Century Epidemic

Incidents of polio increased to epidemic proportions after 1900. What was going on? Introduction Poliomyelitis (polio) is an infectious disease that can cause spinal and respiratory paralysis. Children are particularly vulnerable to the disease, which used to be called infantile paralysis. There is no cure and if the infection affects the lung muscles or brain[…]

Inoculation in the 18th Century

Vaccination led ultimately to the eradication of smallpox, one of the great achievements of medicine. By Arthur Boylston Introduction Early in the 18th century, variolation (referred to then as ‘inoculation’) was introduced to Britain and New England to protect people likely to be at risk of infection with smallpox. This triggered a number of important[…]

The Journey of Vaccines, Past and Present

Inoculation spread all over the world and revolutionized the field of vaccination against several other infectious diseases. Introduction The history of the process of vaccination and the concept to vaccinate is 1000 of year old (>3000 years) that originated in the ancient Indian peninsula (Northern and Eastern India) as a practice of variolation/inoculation (the immunization of[…]

Edward Jenner and the Search for the Smallpox Vaccine in the 18th Century

His work led to systematically developing, testing, and popularizing inoculation that saved countless lives. Introduction Edward B. Jenner (May 17, 1749 – January 26, 1823) was an English physician and scientist who is most recognized for introducing and popularizing an effective and relatively safe means of vaccination against smallpox, a discovery that proved to be[…]

Jonas Salk’s Battle with Anti-Vaxxers in His Time

He had to deal with critics like Walter Winchell, who warned, “It may be a killer.” It turned out to be a saving grace. In 1952, Americans suffered the worst polio epidemic in our nation’s history. As in prior outbreaks, the disease spread during the summer, mainly attacking children who had been exposed to contaminated[…]

Jonas Salk and the War Against Polio

In the years after WWII, America had two great fears: communism, and polio. By Amanda McGowanHistorian For years, the fight against polio was considered one of the most successful vaccination campaigns of all time. But now, the reappearance of the disease in countries like Pakistan, Syria, and Cameroon has thrown that success into jeopardy.  How was[…]

Vaccines through the Centuries

The armamentarium of vaccines continues to grow with more emphasis on safety, availability, and accessibility. Abstract Multiple cornerstones have shaped the history of vaccines, which may contain live-attenuated viruses, inactivated organisms/viruses, inactivated toxins, or merely segments of the pathogen that could elicit an immune response. The story began with Hippocrates 400 B.C. with his description[…]

Jonas Salk and the Eradication of Polio

Even before the 1952 and 1953 outbreaks, labs had been worked diligently to find a cure for Polio. By Dr. Atif KukaswadiaEpidemiologist Poliomyelitis is an infectious viral disease. It enters through the mouth and is usually spread by contaminated drinking water or food. The virus passes through the stomach and then replicates in the lining[…]