- Smallpox vaccine
The smallpox vaccine was the first successful vaccine ever to be developed. It was first perfected in 1796 by
Edward Jennerwho acted upon the observation that milkmaids who caught the cowpoxvirus did not catch smallpox.
Before smallpox vaccine
Before the smallpox vaccine the mortality of the severe form of smallpox - variola major - was very high. Historical records show that a method of inducing immunity was already known. A process called
inoculation, also known as or variolationwas practiced in Indiaas early as 1000 BC.cite journal | author = Bourzac K| title = Smallpox: Historical Review of a Potential Bioterrorist Tool | journal = Journal of Young Investigators | year = 2002 | volume = 6 | issue = 3|pages = –|url= http://www.jyi.org/volumes/volume6/issue3/features/bourzac.html| doi = 10.1002/rmv.443] . However, Dominik Wujastyk completely discredits the idea that any of the ancient Sanskritmedical texts of India described the process of inoculation; she describes it as pure rumor which was initiated by "The Madras Courier" daily newspaper in 1819. [Wujastyk, Dominik. (1995). "Medicine in India," in "Oriental Medicine: An Illustrated Guide to the Asian Arts of Healing", 19–38. Edited by Serindia Publications. London: Serindia Publications. ISBN 0906026369. Page 29.] The first clear and credible reference to smallpox inoculation was made by the Chinese author Wan Quan (1499–1582) in his "Douzhen xinfa" (痘疹心法) published in 1549. [Needham, Joseph. (1999). "Science and Civilization in China: Volume 6, Biology and Biological Technology, Part 6, Medicine". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Page 134.] Inoculation for smallpox does not appear to have been widespread in China until the reign era of the Longqing Emperor(r. 1567–1572) during the Ming Dynasty. [Temple, Robert. (1986). "The Genius of China: 3,000 Years of Science, Discovery, and Invention". With a forward by Joseph Needham. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc. ISBN 0671620282. Page 137.] In China powdered smallpox scabs were blown up the noses of the healthy. The patients would then develop a mild case of the disease and from then on were immune to it. The technique did have a 0.5-2% mortality rate, but that was considerably less than the 20-30% mortality rate of the disease itself.
Variolation was also practiced throughout the latter half of the 17th century by physicians in
Turkey, Persia, and Africa. In 1714 and 1716 two reports of Turkish method of inoculation were made to the Royal Societyin England, by Emmanuel Timoni, a doctor affiliated with the British Embassy in Istanbul,cite journal |author=Behbehani AM |title=The smallpox story: life and death of an old disease |journal=Microbiol Rev |volume=47 |issue=4 |pages=455–509 |year=1983 | url = http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=6319980 |pmid=6319980 |doi=10.1002/rmv.443] and Jacob Pylarini. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, wife of the British ambassador, is widely credited with introducing the process to Great Britain in 1721. The procedure had been performed on her son and daughter, aged 5 and 4 respectively. They both recovered quickly. In 1721, an epidemic of smallpox hit London and left the British Royal Familyin fear. Reading of Lady Wortley Montagu’s efforts, they wanted to use inoculation on themselves. Doctors told them that it was a dangerous procedure, so they decided to try it on other people first. The test subjects they used were condemned prisoners. The doctors inoculated the prisoners and all of them recovered in a couple of weeks. So assured, the British royal family inoculated themselves and reassured the English people that it was safe.
Stimulated by a severe epidemic, variolation was first employed in North America in 1721. The practice had been known in Boston since 1706, when
Cotton Mather(of Salem witch trialfame) discovered that his slave, Onesimus had been inoculated while still in Africa and that many slaves imported to Boston had also received inoculations.cite web | title= BLACK HISTORY MONTH II: Why Wasn't I Taught That? (B. Willoughby) | work=Tolerance in the News | url=http://www.tolerance.org/news/article_tol.jsp?id=942 | accessdate=2006-09-23] The practice was, at first, widely criticized. [Cite web | title = Open Collections Program: Contagion, The Boston Smallpox Epidemic, 1721 | accessdate = 2008-08-27 | url = http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/contagion/smallpox.html ] However a limited trial showed that 6 deaths occurred out of 244 who were vaccinated (2.5%) while 844 out of 5980 died of natural disease, and the process was widely adopted throughout the colonies.cite book |author=Fenner, Frank |title=Smallpox and Its Eradication (History of International Public Health, No. 6) |publisher=World Health Organization |location=Geneva |year= |pages= |isbn=92-4-156110-6 |oclc= |doi=] By 1777 George Washington, who initially hesitated to have his Revolutionary War troops inoculated during a smallpox outbreak writing, “should We inoculate generally, the Enemy, knowing it, will certainly take Advantage of our Situation;”, eventually ordered mandatory inoculation of all troops and recruits who had not had the disease. [cite book |author=Grizzard FE, Washington G, Chase PD, Twohig D |title= George Washington to Major General Horatio Gates, 5–6 February 1777. In: The papers of George Washington |publisher=University Press of Virginia |location=Charlottesville |year=1985 |volume=8 |isbn=0-8139-1787-5] One document in particular "Essay on External Remedies" 1715 by a Dr. Kennedy, who was doing research in Constantinople, documented physicians there:
"...scarred the wrists, legs, and forehead of the patient, placed a fresh and kindly pock in each incision and bound it there for eight or ten days, after this time the patient was credibly informed. The patient would then develop a mild case [of smallpox] , recover, and thereafter be immune." [cite book | last = Kennedy | first = Peter | title = An Essay on External Remedies Wherein it is Considered, Whether all the curable Distempers incident to Human Bodies, may not be cured by Outward Means | year = 1715 | publisher = A. Bell | location = London ]
This technique was documented as having a mortality rate of only one in a thousand. Two years after Kennedy's description appeared, March 1718, Dr. Charles Maitland successfully inoculated the five-year-old son of the British ambassador to the Turkish court under orders from the ambassador's wife
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who four years later introduced the practice to England. [cite book | author = Robertson, Patrick | title = The book of firsts | publisher = C. N. Potter : distributed by Crown Publishers | location = New York | year = 1974 | pages = | isbn = 0-517-51577-6]
An account from letter by Lady
Mary Wortley Montaguto Sarah Chiswell, dated 1 April 1717, from the Turkish Embassy describes this treatment: :".... The small-pox so fatal and so general amongst us is here entirely harmless by the invention of ingrafting (which is the term they give it). There is a set of old women who make it their business to perform the operation. Every autumn in the month of September, when the great heat is abated, people send to one another to know if any of their family has a mind to have the small-pox. They make parties for this purpose, and when they are met (commonly fifteen or sixteen together) the old woman comes with a nutshell full of the matter of the best sort of small-pox and asks what veins you please to have opened. She immediately rips open that you offer to her with a large needle (which gives you no more pain than a common scratch) and puts into the vein as much venom as can lye upon the head of her needle, and after binds up the little wound with a hollow bit of shell, and in this manner opens four or five veins. . . . The children or young patients play together all the rest of the day and are in perfect health till the eighth. Then the fever begins to seize them and they keep their beds two days, very seldom three. They have very rarely above twenty or thirty in their faces, which never mark, and in eight days time they are as well as before the illness. . . . There is no example of any one that has died in it, and you may believe I am very well satisfied of the safety of the experiment since I intend to try it on my dear little son. I am patriot enough to take pains to bring this useful invention into fashion in England, and I should not fail to write to some of our doctors very particularly about it if I knew any one of them that I thought had virtue enough to destroy such a considerable branch of their revenue for the good of mankind, but that distemper is too beneficial to them not to expose to all their resentment the hardy wight that should undertake to put an end to it. Perhaps if I live to return I may, however, have courage to war with them. ..." [http://www.ic.arizona.edu/ic/mcbride/ws200/montltrs.htm]
In the early empirical days of vaccination, prior to Pasteur's work on establishing a
germ theoryand Lister's on antisepsis and asepsis there was considerable cross-infection. One of the early vaccinators is thought to have contaminated the Cowpox matter - the vaccine - with Smallpox matter (he worked in a Smallpox hospital) and this produced essentially variolation. Other vaccine material was not reliably derived from Cowpox, but from other skin eruptions of cows [http://lachlan.bluehaze.com.au/london2001/august2001/18aug2001c/] . In modern times an effective scientific model and controlled production were important in reducing these causes of apparent failure or iatrogenic illness.
Some of the earliest statistical and epidemiological studies were performed by
James Jurinin 1727 and Daniel Bernoulliin 1766.cite journal | author = Blower S, Bernoulli D | title = An attempt at a new analysis of the mortality caused by smallpox and of the advantages of inoculation to prevent it. 1766 | journal = Rev. Med. Virol. | volume = 14 | issue = 5 | pages = 275–88 | year = 2004 | pmid = 15334536 | doi = 10.1002/rmv.443 | url = http://www.semel.ucla.edu/biomedicalmodeling/pdf/Bernoulli&Blower.pdf | type = pdf ]
At the age of thirteen, Jenner was apprenticed to Dr. Ludlow in
Sodbury. He observed that people who caught cowpox while working with cows were known not to catch smallpox. He assumed a causal connection. The idea was not taken up by Dr. Ludlow at that time. After Jenner returned from medical school in London, a smallpox epidemic struck his home town of Berkeley, England. He advised the local cow workers to be inoculated. The farmers told him that cowpox prevented smallpox. This confirmed his childhood suspicion, and he studied cowpox further, presenting a paper on it to his local medical society.
Perhaps there was already an informal public understanding of some connection between disease resistance and working with cows. The “beautiful
milkmaid” seems to have been a frequent image in the art and literature of this period. But we know for a fact: In the years following 1770 there were at least six people in England and Germany (Sevel, Jensen, Jesty 1774, Rendall, Plett 1791), who tested successfully the possibility of using the cowpox vaccine as an immunization for smallpox in humans. In 1796 Sarah Nelmes, a local milkmaid, contracted cowpox and went to Jenner for treatment. Jenner took the opportunity to test his theory. He inoculated James Phipps, the eight-year-old son of his gardener, not with smallpox but with cowpox. After an extremely weak bout of cowpox, James recovered. Jenner then tried to infect James with smallpox but nothing happened—the boy was immune to smallpox.
Jenner reported his observations to the Royal Society. Further work was suggested, and Jenner published a series of 23 cases, including his son Edward, none suffered severely from smallpox . Two years later a society to oppose vaccination had been established in Boston, MassachusettsFact|date=February 2007 — an indication of rapid spread and deep interest. By 1800 Jenner’s work had been published in all of the major European languages. The process was performed all over Europe and the United States. The death rate was close to zero with the process, which became known as
vaccinationand was continued to around 1974 in the UK. A typical death rate at that time was roughly one per million, making vaccination against smallpox with vacciniathe most dangerous immunisation widely provided in modern times. Fact|date=March 2007 Thanks to the development of the smallpox vaccine, the disease was officially eradicated in 1979.
Balmis Expedition(1803) carried the vaccine to Spanish America, the Philippinesand China under commission of the Spanish Crown.
Some years before Dr. Jenner,
Benjamin Jesty, a farmerat Yetminsterin Dorset(he later moved to and is buried at Worth Matravers) is recorded as observing the two milkmaids living with his family to have been immune to smallpox and then inoculating his family with cowpox to protect them from smallpox. This was done in 1774 and can be found with Crookshank's History and Pathology of Vaccination, London 1889, vol. 1, p.110ff. But the question of who first initiated smallpox inoculation/vaccination can not be answered properly, as there is in the sources the exact date and time only for the predecessor Plett (1791), but not for Sevel, Jensen and Rendall.Louis T. Wright,cite web | title=A Brief Biography of Dr. Louis T. Wright | work=North by South: from Charleston to Harlem, the great migration | url=http://northbysouth.kenyon.edu/1998/health/wright.htm | accessdate=2006-09-23] an African-American and Harvard medical school graduate (1915), introduced intradermal vaccination for smallpox for the soldiers while serving in the Army during World War I.cite web | title=Spotlight on Black Inventors, Scientists, and Engineers | work=Department of Computer Science of Georgetown University | url=http://www.cs.georgetown.edu/~blakeb/mm/BHM/Spotlight%20on%20Black%20Inventors,%20Scientists,%20and%20Engineers.htm | accessdate=2006-09-23]
Eradication of smallpox
By 1977, smallpox, long considered to be the most deadly and persistent human
pathogenic disease, was eradicated by the World Health Organization. This was accomplished through a massive, worldwide outbreak search and vaccinationprogram. However, the variola virus that led to the death of 300 million in the 20th century alone was not completely exterminated with the disease it caused. Three known repositories of the virus were left, one in Birmingham, England which was later destroyed after an accidental escape from containment caused the death of Janet Parker, and two still remaining at the Centers for Disease Controlin Atlanta, Georgiaand the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnologyin Koltsovo, Russia. Each of those States states the repositories are retained for possible anti-bio-weaponry research and against some obscure reservoir of natural smallpox becoming evident.
It is important from the perspective of bioterrorism to note that some countries, including North Korea, did not participate in the WHO eradication program, choosing instead to mount their own program. There is no reliable information to suggest that North Korea, which like many countries at the time was reported to have a bioweapons program, eliminated its samples of the virus.
The vaccine consists of the virus which causes the related, yet far milder,
cowpoxdisease; this virus is appropriately named vaccinia, from the Latin "vaca" which means cow. This vaccine has functional viruses in it which improves its effectiveness but, unfortunately, causes serious complications for people with impaired immune systems (for example chemotherapyand AIDSpatients, and people with eczema) and is not yet considered safe for pregnant women. A woman planning on conceiving within one month should not receive the smallpox immunization until after the pregnancy. In the event of an outbreak the woman should delay pregnancy if possible. A small, yet significant, percentage of healthy individuals also suffer adverse side-effects which, in rare cases, include permanent neurologicaldamage. Vaccines that only contain attenuated vaccinia viruses (an attenuated virus is one in which the pathogenicity has been decreased through serial passage) have been proposed but some researchers have questioned the possible effectiveness of such a vaccine. Others point out that mass vaccinations would probably not be needed to counter a bioterrorist attack if many millions of doses of the current (possibly improved) vaccine could be delivered to victims within several days of exposure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC, "vaccination within 3 days of exposure will prevent or significantly lessen the severity of smallpox symptoms in the vast majority of people. Vaccination 4 to 7 days after exposure likely offers some protection from disease or may modify the severity of disease." This, along with vaccinations of so-called first-responders, is the current plan of action being devised by the United States Department of Homeland Securityand FEMAin the United States.
The vaccine can cause complications for those around those who are vaccinated. People who get the vaccine will shed virus particles through vesicles on their skin and possibly through their respiratory tract. Infections in close and not-so-close contacts can ensue. The current plan to vaccinate first responders has the potential to cause infection in the most vulnerable section of the population, the hospitalized ill. Family contacts are also susceptible, although they are less vulnerable because their immune systems are presumably intact. Secondary infection can cause skin disease, pulmonary disease and rarely, neurologic disease.
June 21, 2003, a scientific advisory panel had issued a recommendation against further vaccination of first responders because a significant number of those vaccinated suffered heart problems, notably pericarditisand myocarditis.
In May 2007, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee of the US
Food and Drug Administrationvoted unanimously that a new live virus vaccine produced by Acambis, ACAM2000, is both safe and effective for use in persons at high risk of exposure to smallpox virus. However, due to the high rate of serious adverse effects, the vaccine will only be made available to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) (a part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services) for the Strategic National Stockpile. [http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/07/briefing/2007-4292B2-00-index.htm] [http://www.acambis.com/default.asp?id=1893]
The main problem with developing a new, supposedly safer vaccine, is that, barring a bioterrorist attack on immunized individuals, its effectiveness cannot be tested on
humans, and other animals do not naturally contract smallpox. Monkeys at USAMRIIDresearch facilities have been infected, but tests on animals that are artificially infected with a human disease are notorious for giving false or misleading results. To demonstrate safety and effectiveness, human trials always have to confirm data obtained from animal testing.
In the United States the smallpox vaccine is the only
FDA-approved treatment for smallpox and monkeypox. As with smallpox, vaccination after infection is effective if the vaccine is given before symptoms develop.
Currently, the United States Air Force has made it mandatory that any Airman deploying to the Middle East must receive the smallpox vaccination before leaving stateside. The same is true of the U.S. Army, and any US Marine being deployed OCONUS, as well as any Marine or US Navy sailor being deployed ship side.
In late 2001, the governments of
United Statesand United Kingdomconsidered stockpiling smallpox vaccines, even while assuring the public that there was no "specific or credible" threat of bioterrorism. [cite news|url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2001/10/22/wthrax22.xml| title=Talks on medicines to fight bio-terrorism|first=Sara|last=Womack|date= 22 October 2001|accessdate=2007-11-23|publisher=The Telegraph] Later, the director of State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTORwarned that terrorists could easily lure underpaid former Soviet researchers to turn over samples to be used as a weapon, saying "All you need is a sick fanatic to get to a populated place. The world health system is completely unprepared for this." [cite news|url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2001/11/06/wpox06.xml|title=Warning of smallpox terror risk|first=Ben|last=Aris|coauthors=Roger Highfield and Philip Delves Broughton|date= 6 November 2001|accessdate=2007-11-23]
United Kingdom, controversy erupted over the company contracted to supply the vaccine due to the political connections of its owner, Paul Drayson, and questions over the choice of vaccine strain being different from that used in the United States. [cite news|url=http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Smallpox&action=edit§ion=9|title=Labour claims unravel over vaccine deal|first=Francis|last=Elliott|date= 14 April 2002|publisher=The Telegraph|accessdate=2007-11-23] Plans for mass vaccinations in the United Statesstalled as the necessity and undesirable side-effects came into question. [cite news|url=http://media.www.michigandaily.com/media/storage/paper851/news/2002/05/20/News/Study.Should.America.Vaccinate-1411373.shtml| title=Study: Should America vaccinate?|first=Kara|last=DeBoer|date= 20 May 2002|publisher=The Michigan Daily|accessdate=2007-11-23]
Benjamin Waterhousefirst doctor to test the smallpox vaccine in the United States.
Vaccination Act- to provide free vaccines to poor
* [http://www.aafp.org/afp/20030901/889.html Smallpox Vaccine: Contraindications, Administration, and Adverse Reactions]
* [http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/smallpox/index.asp CDC Smallpox Home]
* [http://blogs.cgdev.org/vaccine Vaccines for Development]
* [http://17.1911encyclopedia.org/V/VA/VACCINATION.htm The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica article on Vaccination]
* [http://www.gjenvick.com/HistoricalDocumentsCollection/1821-11-04-KokoppeIndpodningsAttest-CowpoxCertificate.html Early smallpox Vaccination Certificate Norway 1821] Norwegian and English Text
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