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Ampoule of smallpox vaccine in original carton, England, 1907

Calf lymph infected with smallpox was used to vaccinate people against the disease. Originally lymph was taken from the pustules of people already vaccinated. The use of this human lymph was banned in 1898 as it was feared other diseases such as syphilis were being spread through this type of vaccination.

Object number:

A640641

 

Glossary:

Glossary: ampoule

A sealed glass or plastic capsule containing one dose of a drug in the form of a sterile solution for injection.

Glossary: syphilis

A sexually transmitted infection resulting in the formation of lesions throughout the body.

Glossary: lymph

Clear, slightly yellowish fluid derived from the blood and similar in composition to plasma. Lymph conveys white blood cells and some nutrients to the tissues.

Glossary: smallpox

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.

Glossary: vaccine

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.

Glossary: pustule

A small inflammation of the skin, containing pus.