Showing posts with label smallpox. Show all posts
Showing posts with label smallpox. Show all posts

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 29 (Jackson collection)

A.Q.M. Office
Knoxville Jany 29 /64

Respectfully returned with the statement that I have no direct knowledge respecting the affair alluded to in the accompanying communication.

I have seen an order from Maj Genl Foster authorizing Dr Jackson the Medical Director to take possession of any house outside the city limits he pleased for smallpox hospitals, and the Rev Mr Hayden Post Chaplain informed me that he had, under direction of Dr Jackson so appropriated a house which I presume to be the one indicated, indeed the occupant and professed owner so represented to me.

As the business was not in any way transacted through the Quartermasters Department, I do not consider that Dept. as at all responsible for the injury done to the citizen, and should not recommend the payment of any money on account of it except under the express order of Maj Genl Foster himself, who ordered the property to be taken.

Very Respectfully
E.B. Whitman
Capt. U.S.A.


Jan. 29. 1864

Respectfully referred to Capt. J. H. Dickinson Chief Q.M. Dept. of the Ohio for his instructions.
J. M. Huntington
Capt A.Q.M.
Office of Chief QuarterMaster
Knoxville Tn. [illegible]
Capt E. B. Hillman A.Q.M. will [illegible] fully the written case, + by [illegible illegible] the private dwelling of Geo. Th. Fagan was taken [illegible] for a hospital.
J.M. Huntington
Acting Chief Q.M.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 4

[Historian of medicine Bert Hansen has written on the early days of vaccination in NYC, and tells me this is probably a cowpox cultivated in calves and used to immunize people against smallpox. Reed had written to the Health Department a week earlier asking about the failure after several months of two samples of bovine vaccine he had made himself. Here’s two relevant photographs - One further note – by the end of the nineteenth century, it was known that something smaller than bacteria could cause disease, but the first actual virus was isolated by Martinus Willem Beijerinck in 1898; hence the terminology used in this letter is imprecise to modern readers.]


Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1903


Health Department,

Centre, Elm, White & Franklin Streets,.

(Criminal Court Building)

Office of the Pathologist, and Director of the Bacteriological Laboratory.

New York, Jan 4th, 1897


Walter Reed, M.D.,

Curator U.S. Army Museum,

7th and B. Streets S.W.,

Washington, D.C.


Dear Doctor:-


Your communication of the 28th ult. To Dr. H.M. Biggs has been received, and he has requested me to reply to the same. With reference to the statement made on the printed directions accompanying the package of vaccine virus sent you on Dec. 24th, I would say that this label was prepared at a time when the keeping quality of the vaccine virus produced by this Department had not yet been fully ascertained. As a matter of fact, we find that the virus preserves its potency unchanged for fully six months; not only does it not deteriorate in strength during this period, but its quality with regard to the number of bacteria present is improved. We have found it impossible to produce a virus absolutely free from bacteria, although we are able to assure the absence of pathogenic organisms. The bacteria originally present in the virus diminish as time goes on, and the age of the virus is, therefore, an important factor with relation to the number of bacteria contained.




Alfred L. Beebe

Asst. Director, Diagnosis Bacteriological Laboratory


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New National Library of Medicine exhibit

Manon Parry sent out an email about her new exhibit:

The National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world's largest medical library and a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recently launched a new exhibition, "Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health." The exhibition will be on display at the NLM on the outskirts of Washington DC until 2010, and can be viewed online at:

The exhibition explores aspects of the history of global health as well as current issues, highlighting the shared concerns of communities around the world. Materials from the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine are on display alongside artifacts and images gathered from across the globe and video interviews. Featured stories include the early years of the AIDS epidemic in the United States and the work of ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), the
Chinese barefoot doctor movement, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and the smallpox eradication program led by the World Health Organization.

Alongside scientific discoveries and ongoing challenges, the stories illustrate the importance of clean water, safe housing, nutritious food, affordable healthcare, and protection from violence in fostering health and wellbeing. Visitors to the exhibition web site are invited to share their perspectives on these issues and GET INVOLVED:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Vaccination, herd immunity, and selfishness

Two main papers ran articles on vaccination today. Let's take a look at them. Remember I'm speaking for myself here as our disclaimer notes.

"Vaccine Failure Is Setback in AIDS Fight: Test Subjects May Have Been Put at Extra Risk Of Contracting HIV" by David Brown, Washington Post Staff Writer, Friday, March 21, 2008; Page A01 talks about the bitter conclusion.

"This is on the same level of catastrophe as the Challenger disaster" that destroyed a NASA space shuttle, said Robert Gallo, co-discoverer of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, and head of the Institute for Human Virology in Baltimore.

This seems to put off a prevention of AIDS for the foreseeable future, meaning that millions especially in Third World countries will continue to die:

"None of the products currently in the pipeline has any reasonable chance of being effective in field trials," Ronald C. Desrosiers, a molecular geneticist at Harvard University, declared last month at an AIDS conference in Boston. "We simply do not know at the present time how to design a vaccine that will be effective against HIV."

Meanwhile, theoretically well-educated people refuse to vaccinate their children in the US - read "Public Health Risk Seen as Parents Reject Vaccines," By JENNIFER STEINHAUER, New York Times March 21, 2008.

Let's pull out some quotes from this article:

SAN DIEGO — In a highly unusual outbreak of measles here last month, 12 children fell ill; nine of them had not been inoculated against the virus because their parents objected, and the other three were too young to receive vaccines.

Now, let's see what the Centers for Disease Control says about measles - "How serious is the disease? Measles itself is unpleasant, but the complications are dangerous. Six to 20 percent of the people who get the disease will get an ear infection, diarrhea, or even pneumonia. One out of 1000 people with measles will develop inflammation of the brain, and about one out of 1000 will die."

Hmmm. Let's see what a parent in the article has to say:

“I refuse to sacrifice my children for the greater good,” said Sybil Carlson, whose 6-year-old son goes to school with several of the children hit by the measles outbreak here. The boy is immunized against some diseases but not measles, Ms. Carlson said, while his 3-year-old brother has had just one shot, protecting him against meningitis. “When I began to read about vaccines and how they work,” she said, “I saw medical studies, not given to use by the mainstream media, connecting them with neurological disorders, asthma and immunology.”

Nice. So she's willing to risk her children to a 1 in 1000 risk of death because of something she read that the mainstream media (and the FDA and CDC) refuse to believe. So far, nobody has been able to prove that vaccination increases the risk of autism, which is what most people who fear vaccination seem to be most concerned about.

“The very success of immunizations has turned out to be an Achilles’ heel,” said Dr. Mark Sawyer, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. “Most of these parents have never seen measles, and don’t realize it could be a bad disease so they turn their concerns to unfounded risks. They do not perceive risk of the disease but perceive risk of the vaccine.”

So what happens to herd immunity, or the phenomena in which even if an individual's vaccination doesn't take, one's protected by the fact that a virus can't infect anyone around him?

There is substantial evidence that communities with pools of unvaccinated clusters risk infecting a broad community that includes people who have been inoculated. For instance, in a 2006 mumps outbreak in Iowa that infected 219 people, the majority of those sickened had been vaccinated. In a 2005 measles outbreak in Indiana, there were 34 cases, including six people who had been vaccinated. Here in California, six pertussis outbreaks infected 24 people in 2007; only 2 of 24 were documented as having been appropriately immunized. A surveillance program in the mid ’90s in Canada of infants and preschoolers found that cases of Hib fell to between 8 and 10 cases a year from 550 a year after a vaccine program was begun, and roughly half of those cases were among children whose vaccine failed.

The current John Adams miniseries on HBO shows the lengths that Abigail Adams was willing to go to inoculate her children. Here's some pictures of smallpox, which was the first disease prevented by vaccination to show why she, and George Washington who vaccinated the Continental Army, went to such lengths.

Woman with smallpox with vaccinated infant (the opposite of the situation in the NY Times article in which the parent is protected, but the child is not).