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Smallpox Vaccination( This Was A Research Project For A College Science Class).

799 words - 3 pages

Smallpox VaccinationSome scientists speculate that the smallpox virus may have made it's way to humans as early as 400 B.C. (Preston 54). Some even suggest that the young Pharaoh Ramses V may have died of the virus in 1157 B.C. (Preston 54). No one can really say for sure where the virus came from or when it was introduced, but because of the scientific research of Edward Jenner the world has a weapon against this horrible disease.Edward Jenner was an English country doctor who in the seventeen hundreds became interested in the disease called smallpox. When Jenner was a child he was exposed to "variolation" which at that time was the weapon against smallpox. The process of variolation was to remove pus and fluid from a smallpox lesion and use a needle to place the infected pus under the skim of the person being protected. Another process of variolation was to take the scab of a smallpox victim and make it into powder. The powder was then inhaled or injected with a needle straight in the vein. Populations that used these variolation techniques had a lower rate of smallpox, but some people still died from the exposure they received through variolation (Okonek).Therefore to help come up with an alternative solution to fighting smallpox Edward Jenner at the age of twenty-three started looking into folklore he had always heard. The folklore was that milkmaids who had previously had cowpox could not catch smallpox. Through Jenner's patients he observed evidence that made the folklore true. Milkmaids who had previously contracted cowpox were immune to the smallpox virus. Jenner had no other explanation why the milkmaids were immune to the disease other than the fact that they had contracted cowpox before hand (Jenner).Using the scientific method Jenner decided to conduct an experiment. Jenner's hypothesis was that cowpox could be used as a vaccine to make people immune to smallpox. Jenner knew that by using the current method of variolation some people would continue to die from the exposure to smallpox. Cowpox was not as severe as smallpox so if the hypothesis worked in the experiment Jenner knew it would be a safer alternative to variolation (Jenner).On May 14, 1796 Jenner injected one of his patients, an eight-year-old healthy boy named James Phipps, with the cowpox virus. It was not uncommon in the 1700's to use real people as test subjects. The cowpox virus was taken f4rom the hand of a...

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