Dr. Edward Jenner And The Small Pox Vaccination

Edward Jenner was a doctor who invented the vaccination for Smallpox. Because of him, the killer disease was eradicated from the earth in 1979. Read about his intersting story.

Edward Jenner was born on May 17, 1749, in Berkely, Gloucestershire, England. His father, Stephen, was a vicar for the parish. The young Edward had both brothers and sisters. When his father died, he was just five years old, and his oldest brother Stephen stepped in as the head of the family.

Three years later, when he was eight years old, Edward was sent to a school at Wotton-Under-Edge. It was run by a clergyman named Clissold. He was then moved to Cirencester where he was under the direction of a man named Doctor Washbourn. Young Edward was thirteen years old when he decided he wanted to become a doctor.

His next move would take him to Sodbury where he learned from Doctor Daniel Ludlow, a surgeon. One day, while helping the doctor, an interesting thing happened that would help set Edward on his path. He overheard a girl say that she could not get the dreaded Smallpox disease because she had already had another disease known as Cowpox.

(The Smallpox disease ran rampant during most of the eighteenth century. It was a highly contagious disease. Its victims had symptoms similiar to the flu. However, with Small pox, the victim would develop a rash of odorous, pus-filled blisters all over their body. The blisters would then turn into crusty scabs. Eventually, if the victim lived, the scabs would fall off,and leave their victim's body scarred. This disease also lead to blindness, pneumonia, and commonly, death. Cowpox, on the other hand, was a disease that infected the teats of cows and the hands of the milkers. It was not deadly, though. It caused sores and fevers, and other uncomfortable symptoms, but its victims got over the illness in no time.)

That statement sparked a desire inside Edward to research this information. Finally, in 1770, at the age of twenty-one, Edward Jenner went to London and became a pupil resident in the house of John Hunter, an eminent London surgeon. Edward received a valuable education from Hunter, and the two found they had many things in common. They would eventually form a friendship that lasted a lifetime. In 1773, Edward Jenner returned to Berkeley where he became a country doctor.

Dr. Jenner researched and experimented with the Cowpox disease for several years. He found out there were actually two forms of the disease, but only one form could possibly provide a human body with an immunity to Smallpox.



On May 14, 1796, a milkmaid named Sarah Nelmes visited Dr. Jenner for the treatment of Cowpox. Dr. Jenner decided it was time to test his vaccination, and he tested it on his gardener's son, an eight-year-old boy named James Phipps. (He got the term "vacca" from the Latin word for "cow.") The boy did contract Cowpox, but he recovered from it within a few days. Dr. Jenner then waited eight weeks for the boy's body to build an immunity. To complete his experiment, Dr. Jenner exposed James to Smallopx. Amazingly, the boy did not contract the deadly disease, and the doctor claimed success.

Dr. Jenner added some new cases to his studies, and then he finally wrote about his vaccine. He wrote a book that was titled simply, "An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae." It was published in 1798. The medical community turned its back on Jenner's claims, and it refused to even listen to him. Finally, he got his big break when a similiar experiment in London with Cowpox and Smallpox proved that Dr. Jenner was right.

The result of Doctor Edward Jenner's research, experiments, and actual vaccine were seen, of course, in the reduced number of Smallpox cases. Because the serum was so hard to obtain and to keep preserved, and the vaccination methods that were used by other doctors varied from Doctor Jenner's standards, Small pox did continue to exist, but it wasn't the health threat that it had been.

Doctor Jenner finally received many honors as well as monetary gain for the development of his vaccination. He continued his practice until the year of 1815, when, with his wife ill, he retired.

Years later, in 1979, the deadly Smallpox disease was finally considered to be eradicated from this earth. (It is also interesting to note that the remaining supplies of the Smallpox virus were destroyed at this time.)

However, the importance of his work does not stop there. His vaccine also paved the way for the development of modern-day Immunology. Researchers use Immunology, or the prevention of diseases, in their search for cures for arthritis, AIDS, and many other diseases of our time.

Dr. Edward Jenner died in Berkeley on January 26, 1823. His home remains a memorial to him and his dedication to mankind. The small hut where he vaccinated people years ago still stands in his garden. People who could not pay for the Smallpox vaccine were treated for free of charge.

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