The Weekly Scientist – The other other Jenner

BEDA 2018, The Monthly Scientist

Hello and welcome to the second of four weekly scientists. Last week I spoke about the wonders of vaccination and Louis Pasteur’s discoveries. I thought for this week I would go along the same theme and introduce you to the father of immunology!

Edward Jenner

edward-jenner

Born: May 17, 1749

Died: Jan 26, 1823 (at age 73) in Berkeley, Gloucestershire

Noted for: The creation of vaccination and being the father of immunology and the creation of the smallpox vaccine.

Why scientist of the week?

As I said last week vaccinations have saved countless lives and are an essential part of modern day medicine. Edward Jenner worked in small rural community where most patients were farmers who owned cattle. During this time, smallpox was a common illness and among the major causes of death. In 1788, a smallpox epidemic hit Gloucestershire. During the outbreak, Edward Jenner observed that some patients who were working with the cattle and had also had contacted cowpox never got affected by the smallpox virus. In May of 1796, Jenner was  given an opportunity when one young milkmaid came to see with some blister-like sores on both hands. Jenner was able to identify that the young lady had caught cowpox due to the fact that she handled cows every day. He extracted some liquid from sores of the patient with cowpox. He later used this liquid on a young healthy man. To Jenner’s relief, the young man never caught smallpox, unlike other people. This then led to the smallpox vaccine.  In 1798, after several other successful tests, Jenner finally published his findings in a publication called An Inquiry into Causes plus the Effects of Variolae Vaccine. He called his idea “vaccination,” from vaccinia, which is a Latin word for cowpox. After so much ridicule, other doctors finally found out that the vaccination really worked and by 1800, a large number of them were using it.

So all in all thanks to Jenner’s discoveries and the immunology work done today many diseases are being wiped out around the world.

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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The Weekly Scientist – Pasteur and the Germ Theory

BEDA 2018, The Monthly Scientist

Hello and welcome to the first of four weekly scientists. We wouldn’t understand how the human body works without these scientists and many of their discoveries have enabled us to live for longer!

Louis Pasteur

Louis_Pasteur

Born: Dec 27, 1822 at Dole, Jura, Franche-Comté, France

Died: Sep 28, 1895 (at age 72) at Marnes-la-Coquette, Hauts-de-Seine, France

Noted for: helped resolve the mysteries of several deadly diseases like chicken cholera, anthrax, rabies and silkworm diseases. He also contributed to the development of the very first vaccines.

Why scientist of the week?

Vaccinations have saved thousands upon thousands of lives. Pasteur created vaccinations for some of the most horrendous diseases.

Pasteur’s first vaccine discovery was in 1879 with a contagious disease called chicken-cholera. After unexpectedly exposing chickens to the weakened form of a disease, he proved that they became immune to the actual virus. Pasteur continued to extend his “germ theory” to formulate vaccinations for various diseases including anthrax, smallpox and cholera.

In 1882, Pasteur made a decision to emphasize his efforts and research on the subject of rabies disease which was proven to attack the central nervous system. In 1885, he vaccinated Joseph Meister, a nine-year-old boy who had previously been bitten 14 times by a rabid dog. The effective results of Pasteur’s vaccine for rabies brought him instant fame. This set off a worldwide fundraising campaign to construct the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France, which was inaugurated on November 14, 1888.

Cheers Louis for saving me from the horrors of cholera, smallpox and anthrax!

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6 in 60: Number 34 – Vaccines

6in60

A few weeks a go I wrote a post called “An offer you can’t refuse” and it was all about vaccinations I thought ThatBiologist needed a little more info on vaccinations in its repertoire so let’s go:

  1. Vaccinations work by exposing the body to a damaged version of the disease, the body then creates antibodies to fight that version so if the body experiences the full version of the disease it can react far faster.
  2. Immunization prevents between 2-3 million deaths every year
  3. Since 200, global measles mortality has declined by 74% and since 1988, polio cases have decreased by over 99% thanks to wider availability of vaccinations.
  4. Thanks to vaccination smallpox has been eradicated.
  5. The most common side effect of getting a vaccination is soreness at the injection site.
  6. Newborn babies are already protected against several diseases because antibodies have passed to them from their mothers via the placenta.

The Sources

Firstly here is the nhs guide to vaccination where I got the first, the fifth and sixth fact. Two and three come from the world health organisation (WHO) page on immunization. The fourth fact is again widely known but comes from the do something page on vaccination.

Want more 6 in 60 – click here!

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An Offer You Can’t Refuse

Miscellaneous

Hello!

As some of you might know vaccination has been in the news quite a bit lately. If you didn’t I’ll tell you why in a bit. Firstly I’ll do the fastest explanation I can as to how vaccination works. In fact the picture below does an awesome job.

how-vaccines-workjpg-4124fe097a13d163

Then vaccinations can eradicate certain diseases as long as a certain percentage of the population is vaccinated against that disease. This is what happened with smallpox (something I am extremely glad to see). The more infectious the disease the higher the percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated. You may have also heard of herd immunity. That’s when a large proportion of the population is immunised against a disease and this then protects those who have not been immunised. So that’s the basics!

So why has it been in the news?

The Tribeca film festival wanted to show a film called Vaxxed. It’s directed by Andrew Wakefield. He completed some now discredited research on the non link between Autism and vaccinations. Wakefield was also stripped from his medical license. His work caused a decrease in vaccinations and therefore the increase in diseases such as mumps and measles.  The Tribeca film festival is the brain child of the actor Robert De Niro. This is what Robert De Niro had to say about vaccination:

“I believe it’s much more complicated than that. It’s much more complicated than that. There is a link. They’re saying there isn’t, but there are certain things.

The obvious one is thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative, but there are other things. I don’t know. I’m not a scientist, but I know because I’ve seen so much reaction about…about…let’s just find out the truth. Let’s just find out the truth. I’m not antivaccine, as I say, but I’m pro-safe vaccine.

Some people who cannot take the vaccine, and they have to be found out and warned. You give a kid a bunch of shots, and then something happens. Some parents are even in this documentary saying, “I knew I shouldn’t have done it. I talked to the doctor. He’s the doctor. I should listen. I didn’t. The next day…” Can you imagine how the parent feels?”

My Concerns

Here is my concern, Robert De Niro is someone who a lot of people know about. He is also not a doctor. He is also not a scientist. Unfortunately many people around the world will listen to him and not look at the real science of vaccination. If people aren’t vaccinated then some of these awful diseases could make a reappearance. In the end my opinion is that a small pin prick with the microscopic chance of something going wrong is far better than getting the disease you are protecting yourself against (That’s the offer that I couldn’t refuse). So here is my response to Robert De Niro.

An Open Letter to Robert De Niro

I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse. You see, we (being the scientific community) feel that vaccination is going to be a big factor in eradicating illness. We’re hoping that you’ll sign a contract agreeing to not speak of topics you clearly don’t fully understand. Perhaps convince some of your friends in the movies to do the same. We’re counting on you, Robert.

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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