Metal storage tube for vaccines, Europe, 1881-1920
Transporting smallpox vaccines was a problem in the 1800s. Ivory vaccination points and lancets had been used but there was always the danger that they might become contaminated. One solution was to seal the vaccine in a glycerol acid in a glass capillary tube. The delicate tubes could then be transported in a metal case like this one.
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Glossary: capillary tube
A glass tube with a very small internal diameter.
Glossary: vaccination point
Glossary: storage tube
A surgical instrument of various forms, commonly sharp-pointed and two-edged. The lancet is used in venesection (the act of opening a vein for bloodletting), and in opening abscesses.
Smallpox is an infectious virus unique to humans. It results in a characteristic skin rash and fluid-filled blisters. After successful vaccination campaigns throughout the 1800s and 1900s, the World Health Organisation certified the eradication of smallpox in 1979. Smallpox is the only human infectious disease to have been completely wiped out.
A substance given to humans or animals to improve immunity from disease. A vaccine can sometimes contain a small amount of bacteria that is designed to stimulate the body's reaction to that particular disease. The first vaccine was developed in 1796 by Edward Jenner to prevent smallpox.