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Edward Jenner and the History of First Vaccine of the World

The history of vaccines begins with the outbreak of smallpox. Smallpox has been a mutant, often deadly epidemic that has plagued mankind for centuries.

Early evidence of smallpox appears on the faces of mummies from the 18th and 20th Egyptian dynasties (1570-1085 BC), but it is believed that smallpox first appeared in agricultural settlements in northeastern Africa around 10,000 BC.

Smallpox then erupted in Europe between the fifth and sixth centuries. Later, the plague reached new heights from Europe through Spanish and Portuguese invaders that conquered neighboring countries. It then took the lives of a number of people.

Smallpox spread to people by contracting the variola virus, and the onset of the infection was similar to the common cold. Later, patients began to experience fever, lethargy, muscle aches, and headaches. A few days later, a rash appeared on the face and skin, and sores formed in the mouth, throat, and nose. Later, these large sores, formed both the inside and outside of the body, were filled with mucus and pus and then ultimately people died of pain. By the third week, if the patient survives, the rash would form and separate from the skin.

Smallpox was widespread in Europe throughout the eighteenth century, killing 400,000 people each year, including five kings at the time. Survivors often had permanent injuries to some extent, and many individuals lost their lips, nose, or ear tissue. Smallpox had scarred the cornea of ​​the eye and caused blindness in one-third.

Attempts were made in various parts of the country to tie up this smallpox which had claimed countless lives. However, the most successful way of combating smallpox before the discovery of vaccination was inoculation. Inoculation referred to the subcutaneous instillation of smallpox virus into nonimmune individuals. The inoculator usually used a lancet wet with fresh matter taken from a ripe pustule of some person who suffered from smallpox. The material was then subcutaneously introduced on the arms or legs of the nonimmune person. 

At that time, Chinese scholars used certain matter from the smallpox infected one's wound to inoculate into patients with smallpox. Similarly, the particles in powder form from a dried wound could be scraped off and inhaled through the noses of non infected healthy people.

In the eighteenth century, the first form of vaccination, called variolation, was introduced in Europe and North America. To do this, a scratch was made on the skin of a healthy person and the skin from the dry smallpox pigments was stirred and injected in powder or liquid form.

However, this injection method was not effective because 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.

In 1757, eight-year-old Edward Jenner was one of a thousand children vaccinated with variolation. As a child, Jenner had a strong interest in science and nature, which led to her study of medicine, surgery, and even zoology. He eventually settled in rural England outside London and began studying medicine.

As part of the training, Jenner took variation on his patients. But he realized that variation was not effective in eradicating smallpox. It was at that time that he noticed that the diary maid (those who look after the cattle on the farms) who were infected with cowpox did not affect any kind of infection of smallpox.

Jenner Performing his first Vaccination

In May 1796, Jenner met 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 continued to inject cowpox vaccine to children with similar effects. The Latin word for cow is vacca, and cowpox is vaccinia; Jenner decided to call this new procedure vaccination. 

Edward Jenner was not the first to try to tie up smallpox. But it was Jenner who discovered an effective and scientific vaccine. In the coming years, the smallpox vaccine spread around the world and eventually saved millions of lives. In 1980, the World Health Assembly declared the world smallpox-free. Jenner's work captured the imagination of scientists, set the stage for future exploration, and brought the world into the age of modern vaccine research.

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