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Three sets of opacity tubes, England, 1915-1925

Opacity tubes were used to standardise anti-bacterial vaccines from 1915 onwards. The opaque appearance of a vaccine of unknown concentration is compared to a standard tube of known concentration. A light is shone through the unknown tube and is compared to each of the ten standard glass tubes in the kit to determine which one it matches most closely. Provided with the kit is a list of how much bacteria per millimetre is in each tube for certain types of bacteria.

Object number:

E2008.87.9

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Glossary:

Glossary: anti-bacterial

A substance that destroys bacteria or slows their growth or reproduction.

Glossary: opacity tube

No description.

Glossary: bacteria

Micro-organisms which can cause disease but have an important role in global ecology.

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.