Essay Title: What was Edward Jenner’s contribution to science? How important is it today?
Modern healthcare as it is today would not be as successful as it has come to be without the scientific contributions from founding researchers. This research has meant that the world today has fought back against once deadly diseases such as anthrax and tuberculosis (TB), with some diseases such as smallpox being almost completely eradicated from the world with the last remaining specimens under high security. CITATION Abo17 l 2057 (Anon., 2017) Edward Jenner provided crucial research, paving the way into the development of modern vaccinations as we know, often being referred to as the ‘pioneer of smallpox vaccination and the father of immunology’ CITATION Edw14 l 2057 (Anon., 2014).
What is Smallpox?39116001288415Figure 1
Image showing persons hand infected with smallpox lesions. CITATION Jul16 l 2057 (Calderone, 2016)00Figure 1
Image showing persons hand infected with smallpox lesions. CITATION Jul16 l 2057 (Calderone, 2016)3917950635000Smallpox is an infectious disease that can be caused by two types of virus variants, either Variola major and Variola minor. CITATION Wik17 l 2057 (Wikipedia, 2017) Once the disease has been contracted, usually by inhalation, a person will not show the tell-tale signs of the infection such as the small reddish spots typical of this disease until around 12 days. The symptoms of smallpox are often similar to other viral diseases such as the common cold, this may include but not limited to a fever, muscle pain, headache and sometimes nausea and vomiting. Between 12-15 days, small reddish spots that are characteristic of the small pox disease (as seen in Figure 1) which will quickly grow developing all over the skin, following the initial development the spots will rupture and continue to spread as more of the virus is released into the saliva. The disease can then develop along different pathways of different variations of the smallpox disease, creating 4 different types of the smallpox virus. The 4 types of smallpox are known as ordinary, modified, malignant (or flat), and haemorrhagic. CITATION Wik17 l 2057 (Wikipedia, 2017) While in history of smallpox, it typically only has a fatality rate of about 30% before it was eradicated, the malignant (or flat), and haemorrhagic types are usually almost always fatal in all those who contract the diease. CITATION Chr14 l 2057 (Hogan, 2014) The last case of naturally occurring smallpox was in Somalia in 1977 and has been declared of being fully eradicated worldwide since 1979. CITATION WHO16 l 2057 (WHO, 2016)
Smallpox has been around thousands of years, thought to have been began in India or Egypt around 3,000 years ago spreading along trade routes in Asia, Africa and Europe even reaching the Americas. CITATION Nat17 l 2057 (NationalGeographic, 2017) This meant the disease spread rather quickly and in its path took many lives. While there was no direct cure, people began looking on ways to ‘fight’ against smallpox nearly 2,000 years ago, way before Edward Jenner invented vaccinations, using a technique known as variolation which was very commonly used among many societies. This would often include directly infecting a person with the smallpox virus by “blowing dried scabs up their nose.” This would result in the person experiencing mild symptoms of the disease but they also realised following the variolation that those that had undergone the variolation treatment now had some immunity to smallpox. Despite that between 2 – 3% of people that underwent variolation died, suffered from the disease or even spread it further, it became highly popular, particularly in Europe. CITATION Ste05 l 2057 (Stefan Riedel, 2005) However, the success rate of the practice was not high due the high fatality rate, and being as it was not always successful there was a realisation that a more effective treatment , inspired pioneers such as Edward Jenner’s, resulting in him leading to his discovery of the smallpox vaccine.
Edward Jenner and his work
Edward Jenner was born 17th May 1749, Berkeley in Gloucestershire, England. Jenner was born to the Rev. Stephen Jenner, the vicar of Berkeley and his wife, but around the age of 5 his father passed away and consequently was raised by his eldest brother. As part of his education, Jenner studied under Ludlow, a surgeon at Sodbury, as an apprentice practising pharmacy and surgery CITATION Dre13 l 2057 (Drewitt, 2013). This opportunity provided the knowledge Jenner would need pave the way for his future, beginning with medical practice in his home country in 1773. It was only later, however that he could begin to develop, and prove, that it was possible to vaccinate a person against a disease having heard a country-woman when he was younger say ‘ I cannot take smallpox, for I have had cowpox’. CITATION Dre13 l 2057 (Drewitt, 2013)
Hand of Sarah Nelmes, infected with cowpox lesions. CITATION Edw17 l 2057 (Jenner, (1749-1823))00Figure 2
Hand of Sarah Nelmes, infected with cowpox lesions. CITATION Edw17 l 2057 (Jenner, (1749-1823))left381000This lead him to look for a milkmaid who had been infected with cow pox to extract pus from the cow pox lesions as well as subject to test the ‘vaccination’ on. With this in mind, Jenner found Sarah Nelmes, a milkmaid with cow pox lesions formed on her hand (as seen in Figure 2). He then proceeded to extract the pus from these lesions and use the pus to inoculate 8-year-old James Phipps. CITATION Ste05 l 2057 (Stefan Riedel, 2005) The young boy developed symptoms such as a fever and loss of appetite but just nine days after was healthy again. The following July, Jenner followed with a second inoculation, however CITATION Edw17 l 2057 (Jenner, (1749-1823)) this time he used pus from a smallpox lesion. Phipps showed no reaction to the smallpox disease, proving the theory of vaccination, in that it was possible to vaccinate against diseases such as small pox. CITATION Cow17 l 2057 (Anon., 2017)
In 1797, Jenner sent his method of the investigation as well as his observations from the experiment to the Royal Society, this initial paper however was rejected. Following this initial rejection, Jenner in response continued with his study allowing to a few more cases to the first experiment to begin to build strong evidence supporting his discovery. This publication received mixed reactions from the medical community CITATION Ste05 l 2057 (Stefan Riedel, 2005), however this did not deter Jenner and his continued with his work.
Following further research and test subjects, this new discovery slowly became accepted and so this method of vaccination spread quickly and by 1800, “it had also reached most European countries.” CITATION Ste05 l 2057 (Stefan Riedel, 2005) It was found in some cases, later on life many subjects would have to receive a second treatment against smallpox as the disease could still develop in some patients but the majority became immune with the first treatment. These successful treatments continued to progress slowly bringing down the frequency of smallpox cases until in 1980, where the World Health Organisation ‘declared that smallpox was extinct through the world’ CITATION CNT15 l 2057 (Trueman, 2015) and had been eradicated in the natural world.
How did Edward Jenner influence Science?
With the work of Jenner and vaccinations becoming used worldwide and the proof to the theory renowned, other scientists such a Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch. Developed from the Edward Jenner’s own work, Pasteur helped developed new vaccines for diseases such as cholera, anthrax and rabies. CITATION Che16 l 2057 (Foundation, 2016) Pasteur also showed that the cause of such diseases was due to airborne microbes and so from this work stemmed the development of the process of pasteurisation. The technique of pasteurisation is a process that kills microbes by heating up the liquids such as milk, allowing them to be consumed now safely. Arguably, it was the work of Jenner that provided Pasteur the knowledge he needed to fuel his discoveries and without this, important crucial techniques such as vaccines and pasteurisation would not exist today.
In addition to Jenner’s work creating a foundation for Louis Pasteur, the work of these two scientists also gave rise to another scientist Robert Koch and the inspiration for his work. While both Jenner and Pasteur were sure that it was the work of microbes that resulted in disease in humans, they were never be able to make the full connection between microbes and disease – until Robert Koch. With his medical experience as a doctor, Koch had crucial knowledge around the human body and how it worked, a critical quality to support his ideas. With this basis of knowledge, the result could been seen the ground breaking discoveries that he made in the world of vaccinations. Through his work Koch found the two germs that caused the diseases anthrax and the potentially fatal tuberculosis (TB). Following his own successful techniques “by 1900, twenty-one germs that caused diseases had been identified in just 21 years” CITATION CNT151 l 2057 (Truemen, 2015), leading to increasingly effective defence against these disease to develop.
Contribution to Modern Day Science
Edward Jenner’s work is arguably one of the most crucial discoveries made to date that has had worldwide influence and has since been widely developed to be one of the most successful medical break throughs. Now with Jenner’s discovery, many children receive routine vaccines such as in the UK free of charge, protecting them against a large range of diseases. These vaccines include the ‘6-in-1 vaccine’ which children receive aged 8, 12 and 16 weeks (all babies born after 1 August 2017) which was introduced to protect young child from the main six childhood diseases including, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, Hib (haemophilus influenzae type b) and hepatitis B. CITATION NHS16 l 2057 (NHS, 2016) It is vaccines like these that increase the likelihood of children growing up healthy and decrease the risk young children being susceptible to potentially fatal diseases unnecessarily.
It is clear that Edward Jenner’s contribution to science through the development of the first vaccine was crucial to modern day medicine. Without Jenner’s discovery of the smallpox vaccine, it promotes the question as to whether following scientists such as Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch would have made their own discoveries. Then, without their combined discoveries would, many diseases such as anthrax and tuberculosis be more prevalent than they are today, would smallpox still be plaguing the earth? Following these thoughts, it is possible that more people would be at higher risk of such diseases, especially children who would have not have access to those crucial vaccines given when they’re young designed to fight off childhood killing diseases. The importance of Edward Jenner’s leading discoveries is undeniable, and the world today would not be as it is without his contribution to science.
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