The Search for a Cure Continued
Dr. Edward Jenner, who wrote on such subjects as geology and the migration of birds, is generally credited with the discovery of vaccination for smallpox in 1796. Apparently struck by the fact that milkers in Gloucestershire were unaffected by smallpox, his discovery was to use the analogue, cowpox, rather than the virus of the disease itself. Thus, Jenner introduced vaccination in place of inoculation or variolation, the injection of the causative virus itself which resulted in a milder form of the disease, but had the disadvantage of spreading the severe form to those not inoculated. Smallpox inoculation had been practised since antiquity in China, and its use was well known in the Near East. An account was published in England in 1714 (Timoni, 1714), followed in 1717 by the letters from Constantinople of Lady Mary Montague. Its use was popularized in England in 1721–2 and before the middle of the 18th century was reported as well established.
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- 1.Theves (1994) repeats Koch (1891) and Leclainche (1955), claiming that the first attempt at inoculation as a cure or preventive was undertaken by Ramazzini in 1711, but Ramazzini did not undertake any experiments (he was almost 80, nearly blind and in ill health). Although he wrote: “Crediderim itaque in curatione hujus malignae febris, ea Methodo procedendum, quœ a bonis Medicis servatur in curanda variolosa puerorum febre...” loosely translated as “I therefore think that we should proceed in the cure of this disease as we do in the cure of the variolous fever of boys,” he makes no reference to inoculation but goes on to refer to warm remedies remediis calidioribus, and recommends bleeding and setons, used since Greek and Roman times: “... aures quoque rotundo ferro perforandœ, indita postea radice hellebori, ut Veterinarii Scriptores suadent; similiter sub mento perforandia palearia, injecto postea funiculo, quem setaceum vocant; indiget enim Natura aliquo emissario, per quod venenum istud exantlet...” Which translates as “...also one could drill through the ears with a round iron and afterwards insert hellebore root as the Veterinary Writers recommend. Furthermore one can drill through the dewlap under the chin and afterwards pull a rope through it which one calls a stiff hair, for Nature needs some outlet through which it may excrete the poison.” And: “Non inutile igitur foret sanis Bobus, palearia sub mento candenti ferro perforare, atque funiculo indito, apertum, illud diù servare, ut per illud paulatim egerantur impuritates illœ;, quœ hujus contagiosi fomitis sunt soboles, & in capite potissimùm acervari solent” (Ramazzini, 1718). “It would be beneficial therefore to perforate the dewlaps of the healthy oxen under the chin with a red-hot iron and insert a rope in the perforations to keep them open a long time. Thus may be drained off the unclean matters which are the issue of this infectious disease and which usually accumulate in the head.” referring to Hippocrates. “All suppuration makes relapse unlikely, for it is at the same time ripening, crisis, and apostasis.” (Epidemics 6.3.4). And: “Developing sores and swellings bring fevers to their crises. Those in which they do not occur are without crisis. Those in which they persist have the surest and quickest relapses.” (Epidemics 6.3.21) (Smith, 1994).Google Scholar
- 2.Toussaint claimed in 1880 that he had succeeded in making sheep resistant to anthrax by inoculation with defibrinated anthrax-infected blood heated to 55°C for 10 min.Google Scholar
- 3.A Belgian Commission of Inquiry into the Willems method in 1852 concluded that it was “a cruel and a useless proceeding” (Greenhow, 1857).Google Scholar
- 4.Mbatian was a seer from 1866 to about 1890.Google Scholar