Edward Jenner (1749-1823), an English physician and scientist pioneered smallpox vaccine, the world's first vaccine. The terms vaccine and vaccination are derived from Variolae vaccinae, devised by Jenner to denote cowpox. Jenner created the first vaccine for smallpox. Jenner inoculated a patient with cowpox, a virus similar to smallpox, to create immunity.
In modern western society, there are no lumps on the neck; mastoiditis; rubella (German measles) with attendant heart defects does not occur; polio is no longer the scourge of the 1950s; tuberculosis is not as prevalent as in the 1940s and 50s; whooping cough was almost eradicated.
At the beginning of the 20th century infectious diseases, caused by microbial pathogens, were the major cause of death. Large numbers of children and the elderly succumbed to diseases such as tuberculosis, diphtheria and pneumonia. At this time microbiologists did not know how diseases were spread, or how they could be controlled, so epidemics flourished. The Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918-1919, caused c.50 million deaths worldwide - more than the total number of deaths recorded in World War One. Diarrhoeal diseases were common since people regularly ate contaminated food and drank contaminated water.
Microbiological research has been concerned with developing antibiotics and vaccines to protect the population from infectious diseases. The discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming saved the lives of many millions of people. The development of vaccines which protect against diphtheria and pneumonia dramatically reduced the number of childhood deaths caused by these diseases. Children in developed countries are also routinely vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella and polio. As a direct result of microbiologists, smallpox, once a horrific disfiguring illness, is now officially extinct on the planet. Unfortunately, a vaccine against HIV, which in 2009 infected c.3.3 million people worldwide still eludes medical research. A vaccine against Ebola virus is now available. Favipiariavir (T-705) represents the first effective therapeutic agent for advanced Zaire EBOV (Ebola virus) infection in an animal model. It reduces viraemia (reduces the number of viruses), ameliorates clinical and biochemical signs of disease, and prevents lethal outcomes in 100% of the animals if treatment is commenced 6 days after infection that is 2 - 4 days before the time of death in control animals.
A UK medical doctor published a paper in the Lancet claiming the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine could cause autism and inflammatory bowel disease in young children. In April 2019, a major Dutch study followed up 650,000 children over 10 years proving there is no link whatsoever between the MMR vaccine and autism. The Lancet retracted the UK doctor's study when his conflict of interest was revealed, particularly when it was revealed his research was funded by a solicitor, who was determined to uncover evidence against vaccine manufacturers. He was struck off the UK Medical Register.
The 'anti-vax' movement is responsible for the return of measles with cases now encountered several times a week in UK hospitals. By 1990 20 million cases of measles were prevented thanks to vaccination. Measles can cause encephalitis along with deafness, brain damage even death coupled with serious implications in pregnancy for unborn children. Measles causes pneumonia in one in twenty cases. There is no cure. prevention by means of vaccination is the only sold form of protection. A recent cluster of 128 cases of measles in New York required un-vaccinated children to be excluded from schools in the area. The anti-vax movement may lead to a loss of immunity in dogs to parvovirus and leptospirosis.
Source: Microbes Lethal to Mankind, Michael Manning, Lulu Press