The Long Prehistory of Modern Measles Vaccination

  • Constant Huygelen


During the first decades after its introduction into Western Europe, the practice of smallpox inoculation or variolation had only limited applications, mainly because of the high morbidity and mortality rates it caused. Gradually, however, the inoculation procedures were improved, resulting in milder reactions and, towards the middle of the eighteenth century, variolation was becoming more popular. The time seemed then ripe to extend the inoculation principle to other scourges of humans and domestic animals, like measles and rinderpest. Both diseases are caused by closely related morbilliviruses, but in the eighteenth century they were seen as belonging to the pox group of diseases; this view encouraged those who wanted to explore the feasibility of inoculations against them in analogy with smallpox.


Nasal Secretion Measle Inoculation Rinderpest Virus Contemporary Author Superficial Incision 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    Letters in Gentleman’s Magazine. 1754;24:493. 549Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Weszpremi S. Tentamen de inoculanda peste. London: Tauch J, 1755, 3Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Brown C. Dissertatio medica inauguralis de morbillis. Edinburgh: Hamilton and Balfour, 1775, 3Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Monro A (secundus). De venis lymphaticis valvulosis et de earum imprints origine. Berolini, 1757, quoted by Hektoen, 239Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hektoen L. Experimental measles. J Infect Dis 1905;2:238–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Zeiss H. Die experimentelle Masernübertragung. Ergeb Inn Med Kinderheilkd 1921;20:425–510Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Enders JF. Francis Home and his experimental approach to medicine. Bull Hist Med 1964;38:101–12PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Plotkin SA. Vaccination against measles in the 18th century. Clin Pediatr (Phila) 1967;6:312–5Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Home WE. Francis Home (1719–1813). First professor of material medica in Edinburgh. Proc R Soc Med 1927;21:1013–5Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Home F. Medical facts and experiments. London: Millar, 1759, 253–88Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hektoen. Op cit, 239–40Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Tissot. Avis au people sur sa santé. Nouvelle ed, Liège, 1763, 160Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Boehme JAB. Disseratio inauguralis medica de nonnullis ad morbillorum insitionem spectantibus. Halle-Magdeburg (Halae-Magd): Hendel, 1766Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Cook J. Letter in Gentleman’s Magazine. 1767;37:163Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Spry E. De variolis ac morbillis iisque inoculandis. Dissertatio medico-practica inauguralis, de variolis ac morbillis iisque inoculandis Lugduni Batavorum (Leiden): Luchtmans, 1768, 54Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Home F. Principes de medicine traduits du latin en française par M Gastellier: auxquels on a joint un extrait d’un ouvrage du meme auteur, intitulé Experiences et Observations de Médecine; [translated from English]. Paris: Vincent, 1772, 184Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Rosen von Rosenstein N. Anweisung zur Kenntniss und Kur der Kinderkrankheiten; aus dem Schwidischen übersetzt und mit Anmerkungen erläutert von J A Murray. Vienna, 1787Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Themmen CJ. Dissertatio medica inauguralis epidemiae morbillosae, Groningae anno 1816 observatae historiam sistens. Groningae, 1817Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hektoen. Op cit, 244Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Preblud SR, Katz SL. Measles vaccine. In: Plotkin SA, Mortimer EA, eds. Vaccines. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1988Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Albers. Die Ueberimpfung der Masern. J Chirur Augenheilk 1834;21:541Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Jörg JCG. Handbuch zum Erkennen und Heilen de Kinderkrankheiten. 2nd ed. Leipzig: Cnobloch, 1836, 876Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    von Katona M. Nachricht von einer im Grossen erfolgreich vorgenommenen Impfung der Masern während einer epidemischen Verbreitung derselben. Oesterr Med Wschr 1842;29:697–8Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    McGirr JE. Inoculation in rebeola. Northwest Med Surg J 1850–51;7:434 (quoted by Hektoen)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    von Mayr F. Beobachtungen über die Masern, ihre Complicationen, Nachkrankeiten und epidemische Verbreitung Z. Gesellschaft Aerzte [Vienna] 1852;i:6–24Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Bufalini B. Sull’ epidemia di morbillo, che ha dominato in Sienna dal Gennaio fin presso la metà di Guigno 1869. Riv Sci R Acad Fisiocritici 1869;I:111–26Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Thompson H. Inoculation with suggestions for it further application in medicine, especially in mitigating the severity of measles. Glasgow Med J 1890;33:428Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Copeman WSC. On some recently developed methods for measles prophylaxis. J Hyg 1925;24:427–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Herrman C. Immunization against measles. Arch Pediatr 1915;32:503Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Herrman C. Immunization against measles. Arch Pediatr 1922;39:607–10Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Reinders G. Waarneemingen en proeven meest door inëntinge op het rundvee gedaan, dienende ten bewyze, dat wij onze kalvers van gebeterde koejen geboren, door inëntinge tegen de veepest kunnen beveiligen. Gronongen: L Huisingh, 1776Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Huygelen C. Immunization of cattle against rinderpest in eighteenth century Europe. Med His, 1996, in pressGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Hiraishi S, Okamoto. On prophylactic inoculation against measles. Jpm Med World 1921;1:10Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Debré R, Joannon P, Papp K. L’immunisation active contre la rougeole. 1re mémoire. Ann Med (Paris) 1926;20:343–61Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Debré R, Papp K, Cross-Decam J. L’immunisation active contre la rougeole. 2e mémoire. Ann Med (Paris) 1928;23:119–35Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Papp K. L’immunisation active des nourrissons contre la rougeole. Arch Franç Pediatr 1947;4:241–60Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Richardson DL, Connor H. Immunization against measles. JAMA 1919;72:1046–8Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    International Conference on Measles Immunization. Bethesda, MD, 7–9 November 1961. Am J Dis Child 1962;103(3):335–517Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Constant Huygelen
    • 1
  1. 1.RixensartBelgium

Personalised recommendations