[WORLDKINGS] Journey to seek extraordinary record holders around the world (P.13) - Edward Jenner (England) : the pioneer of the first vaccine.


(WorldKings.org) For many centuries, smallpox devastated mankind. In modern times we do not have to worry about it thanks to the remarkable work of Edward Jenner and later developments from his endeavors.

The origin of smallpox as a natural disease is lost in prehistory. It is believed to have appeared around 10,000 bc, at the time of the first agricultural settlements in northeastern Africa. It seems plausible that it spread from there to India by means of ancient Egyptian merchants.

In the 18th century in Europe, 400,000 people died annually of smallpox, and one third of the survivors went blind. The case-fatality rate varied from 20% to 60% and left most survivors with disfiguring scars. The case-fatality rate in infants was even higher, approaching 80% in London and 98% in Berlin during the late 1800s.

It was common knowledge that survivors of smallpox became immune to the disease. The most successful way of combating smallpox before the discovery of vaccination was inoculation. However, inoculation was not without its attendant risks. There were concerns that recipients might develop disseminated smallpox and spread it to others. Transmission of other diseases, such as syphilis, via the bloodborne route was also of concern.

Edward Jenner was born on May 17, 1749, in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, the son of the Rev. Stephen Jenner, vicar of Berkeley. Edward was orphaned at age 5 and went to live with his older brother. During his early school years, Edward developed a strong interest in science and nature that continued throughout his life.

In 1764, Jenner began his apprenticeship with George Harwicke. During these years, he acquired a sound knowledge of surgical and medical practice. Upon completion of this apprenticeship at the age of 21, Jenner went to London and became a student of John Hunter, who was not only one of the most famous surgeons in England, but he was also a well-respected biologist, anatomist, and experimental scientist. Jenner made great progress in clinical surgery while studying with John Hunter in London.

While Jenner's interest in the protective effects of cowpox began during his apprenticeship with George Harwicke, it was 1796 before he made the first step in the long process whereby smallpox, the scourge of mankind, would be totally eradicated. For many years, he had heard the tales that dairymaids were protected from smallpox naturally after having suffered from cowpox. Pondering this, Jenner concluded that cowpox not only protected against smallpox but also could be transmitted from one person to another as a deliberate mechanism of protection. In May 1796, Edward Jenner found a young dairymaid, Sarah Nelms, who had fresh cowpox lesions on her hands and arms. On May 14, 1796, using matter from Nelms' lesions, he inoculated an 8-year-old boy, James Phipps. Subsequently, the boy developed mild fever and discomfort in the axillae. Nine days after the procedure he felt cold and had lost his appetite, but on the next day he was much better. In July 1796, Jenner inoculated the boy again, this time with matter from a fresh smallpox lesion. No disease developed, and Jenner concluded that protection was complete.

Jenner decided to call this new procedure vaccination. However, after 3 months he had found none. In London, vaccination became popular through the activities of others, particularly the surgeon Henry Cline, to whom Jenner had given some of the inoculant. Later in 1799, Drs. George Pearson and William Woodville began to support vaccination among their patients. Jenner conducted a nationwide survey in search of proof of resistance to smallpox or to variolation among persons who had cowpox. The results of this survey confirmed his theory. Despite errors, many controversies, and chicanery, the use of vaccination spread rapidly in England, and by the year 1800, it had also reached most European countries.

Although he received worldwide recognition and many honors, Jenner made no attempt to enrich himself through his discovery. The extraordinary value of vaccination was publicly acknowledged in England, when in 1802 the British Parliament granted Edward Jenner the sum of £10,000. Five years later the Parliament awarded him £20,000 more. However, he not only received honors but also found himself subjected to attacks and ridicule. Despite all this, he continued his activities on behalf of the vaccination program. Gradually, vaccination replaced variolation, which became prohibited in England in 1840.

According to ncbi.nlm.nih.gov and Wikipedia.org

Mihan (Collect and edit) (World Records Union - WorldKings)


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