Children in History: James Phipps (1796)


Figure 1.--

James Phipps was the English boy that Edward Jenner (1749-1823)innoculated against cowpox (1796). We do not know what happened to James in his future life, but we do know that this was the first known use of innoculation to prevent disease. Smallpox at the time was a virulent disease which ravaged man kind. Many Europeans who did not die of the disease were marked with scared faces. Native Americans who had no resistance to the disease were devestated when Europeans brought the disease to the New World. The principle was to introduced dead or weakened weakened disease bodies to the individual to help the person's imune system the ability to deal with the disease. Cowpox was a less virulent form of the disease, but helped the system build a resistance to smallpox. The technique of innoculation or vaccination was used to combat many other diseases. It led to a great debate when scintists began to work on a polio vaccine after that disease became a huge problem in the 20th century, crippling thouands of children annually. Sabibe worked on a polio vaccine. Jinas Salk argued, however, that polio was to virulent for this approach.

Smallpox

Smallpox at the time was a virulent disease which ravaged man kind. Many Europeans who did not die of the disease were marked with scared faces. Native Americans who had no resistance to the disease were devestated when Europeans brought the disease to the New World.

Edward Jenner


James Phipps (1788?-1853)

James Phipps was the English boy that Edward Jenner (1749-1823)innoculated against cowpox (1796). Very little is known about James. He was born in Berkeley Parish. His fther was a laborer of no means. He was acquained with Edward Jenner who occassionally hired him. There is a record of James baptism in St Mary's church when he was 4 years old. Jenner used James as an experimental suject. Jenner's account is a little chilling as James was used to test out Jenner's theory that cowpox gave immunity from smallpox. The reason James was chosen was because his father was an individual of no importance and thus his son could be used as an experimental subject. One has to wonder why his father and mother would have allowed this.

The Experiment

Jenner and others had noted that individuals who had experienced cowpox did not later contract smallpox. Virtually nothing was known about viruses at the time, but Jenner reasoned that cowpox provided immunity. He resolved to test his theory. Sarah Nelmes was a milkmaid. She milked cows on her father's farm. There in 1796 she contracted cowpox. Jenner then took material from one of Sarah's cowpox pustules and ibtroduced it to James' arms. Jenner described what occurred. "On the seventh day he complained of uneasiness in the axilla, and on the ninth he became a little chilly, lost his appetite, and had a slight head-ache" but by the 10th day James was "perfectly well". The next step in Jenner's experiment was to see if James was now immune from smallpox. Jenner innoculated him July 1 with material from smallpox postule. James did not get sick. Jenner subsequently repeated the procedure with the same result.

James' Adult Life

Jenner over the following 20 years used James as a living demonstration. In front of various groups, he repeatedly innoculated James with smallpox to prove that he was permently immune. Jenner employed James as an assistant gardener. James lived a full life and seems to have remained on good relations with Jenner. James contracyed tuberculosis, but recovered. He married and had two hildren. He served as a mourner at Jenner's funeral (1823) Phipps lived many years longer, passing away in 1853.

Innoculation

This was the first known use of innoculation to prevent disease. The principle was to introduced dead or weakened weakened disease bodies to the individual to help the person's imune system the ability to deal with the disease. Cowpox was a less virulent form of the disease, but helped the system build a resistance to smallpox. The technique of innoculation or vaccination was used to combat many other diseases.

Polio

The success of inoculation led to a great debate when scintists began to work on a polio vaccine after that disease became a huge problem in the 20th century, crippling thouands of children annually. Sabibe worked on a polio vaccine. Jonas Salk argued, however, that polio was to virulent for this approach.







HBC






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Created: 4:43 PM 4/13/2005
Last updated: 4:43 PM 4/13/2005