Missed in History: Edward Jenner

BY Tracy V. Wilson / POSTED November 20, 2013
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Edward Jenner A painting of Dr. Edward Jenner (1749-1823) performing his first vaccination on James Phipps, a boy of 8, on May 14, 1796. Painting by E. Board in the Welcome Museum, London. Image © Bettmann/CORBIS

When smallpox existed in the wild, it killed about 30 percent of the people who got it. For babies, that number was between 80 and 90 percent. Smallpox epidemics wiped out armies in the field, changed lines of royal succession and devastated the native population when it was introduced to the Americas. An epidemic near the end of the Roman Empire killed almost 7 million people, and in the 18th century, as much as 10 percent of the population of Europe died of it every year.

Today it’s gone, existing only in a few lab specimens. And the man who gets the credit for starting the world on that path is Edward Jenner.

Our listener mails are about our Haunted Mansion episodes (part one and part two), and the biohazards therein.

For further reading: 10 Oldest Known Diseases

Episode link: Edward Jenner, Father of Vaccines

Gillray cartoon on vaccination against smallpox using cowpox serum, 1802. Ann Ronan Picture Library. --- Image by © Heritage Images/Corbis Gillray cartoon on vaccination against smallpox using cowpox serum, 1802. Ann Ronan Picture Library. — Image © Heritage Images/Corbis

A child in Ethiopia with severe symptoms of smallpox lies in bed.  Ethiopia, ca. 1970. Image © Paul Almasy/CORBIS A child in Ethiopia with severe symptoms of smallpox lies in bed. Ethiopia, ca. 1970. Image © Paul Almasy/CORBIS

My research:

  • “cowpox.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 25 Oct. 2013. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/141309/cowpox>.
  • Barquet, Nicolau  and Pere Domingo. “Smallpox: The Triumph over the Most Terrible of the Ministers of Death.” Annals of Internal Medicine. Vol. 127. No. 8. 1997.
  • Baxby, Derrick. “The End of Smallpox.” History Today. Vol. 29, Issue 3. 1999. http://www.historytoday.com/derrick-baxby/end-smallpox
  • Bennett, Michael. “Passage through India: Global Vaccination and British India, 1800–05.” The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History.” Vol. 35, No. 2. June 2007.
  • Blossom the Cow Returns. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPdf7wbfnt0
  • CDC: Smallpox. http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/smallpox/overview/disease-facts.asp
  • Franco-Parades, Carlos et al. “The Spanish Royal Philanthropic Expedition to Bring Smallpox Vaccination to the New World and Asia in the 19th Century.” Clinical Infectious Diseases. Vol. 41, No. 9 2005.
  • Hopkins, Donald R. “Smallpox: Ten Years Gone.” American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 78, No. 12, 1988.
  • Jenner, Edward. “An Inquiry Into the Causes and Effects of the Variolæ Vaccinæ, Or Cow-Pox. 1798.” http://www.bartleby.com/38/4/1.html
  • Jesty, Robert and Gareth Williams. “Who invented vaccination?” Malta Medical Journal. Vol. 23. No. 2. 2011.
  • Morgan, A.J. and S. Parker. “Translational Mini-Review Series on Vaccines: The Edward Jenner Museum and the history of vaccination.” Clinical & Experimental Immunology. March 2007. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1810486/
  • Pead, Patrick J. “Benjamin Jesty: new light in the dawn of vaccination.” The Lancet. Vol. 362, Dec. 2003.
  • Peters, Sally. “Commentary: Bernard Shaw’s dilemma: marked by mortality.” The International Journal of Epidemiology. Vol. 32, Issue 6. http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/32/6/918.full
  • Riedel, Stefan. “Edward Jenner and the History of Smallpox and Vaccination.” Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings. January 2005. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1200696/#B9
  • Stern, Alexandra Minna and Howard Markel. “The History of Vaccines and Immunization: Familiar Patterns, New Challenges.” Health Affairs. Vol. 24. No. 3. 2005.
  • The Jenner Institute. “Edward Jenner (1479-1823). http://www.jenner.ac.uk/edwardjenner

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