Thursday, May 14, 2009

May 14: Jenner's Amazing Smallpox Cure (Vol. 38, pp. 145-154)

On this day in 1796, English scientist Edward Jenner administered the first vaccination for smallpox, one of the greatest advances in the history of medicine.

Jenner figured out that cowpox was a close relative of the deadlier smallpox, and that those who had contracted cowpox developed immunity to smallpox. His experiments in using the material in cowpox pustules as a crude form of vaccine against smallpox was a stunning success and opened a new epoch in medicine.

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