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Weir vaccinator, Europe, 1831-1870

A Weir vaccinator was used to introduce cowpox lymph material into the body via scratches made by scarification. Cowpox gives immunity against smallpox. The four small blades were used to scratch the skin lightly in a cross-hatch pattern, not producing too much blood. The sharp pointed blade was used to collect the lymph material from a pustule. Pustules are skin blisters filled with pus that appear approximately five to eight days after vaccination. The blade was also used to apply the lymph to the cuts made on the skin. The vaccinator was designed by Graham Weir, a physician, sometime before 1866.

Object number:

A600031

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Glossary:

Glossary: vaccination

The introduction of vaccine into the body for the purpose of inducing immunity. Coined originally to apply to the injection of smallpox vaccine, the term has come to mean any immunising procedure in which vaccine is injected.

Glossary: cowpox

Viral infection of cows' udders, transmitted to humans by direct contact, causing very mild symptoms similar to smallpox.

Glossary: vaccinator

No description.

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: scarification

The process of making a series of cuts or scratches in the skin to allow a substance to enter the body.