Skip to main content

Anthrax. William Smith Greenfield, M.D., F.R.C.P., Professor Superintendent, The Brown Animal Sanatory Institution (1878–81) Concerning the priority due to him for the production of the first vaccine against anthrax

  • W. D. Tigertt (a1)

The purpose of this paper is to draw attention to the fact that W. S. Greenfield, working at the Brown Animal Sanatory Institution in London, prepared an effective vaccine against anthrax and described his results some months before the experiment of Pasteur at Pouilly-le-fort. Partly through lack of financial support and partly due to opposition by the antivivisectionists, Greenfield was forced to confine his experiments to a small number of animals, but his results were nevertheless conclusive. He showed that by continuous subculture in a fluid medium that the anthrax bacillus progressively lost its virulence, until it was harmless even to the most susceptible animal, the mouse. The injection of suitably attenuated organisms into cattle rendered them immune to the subsequent injection of virulent anthrax bacilli. Greenfield's work has been overlooked or neglected, and he has never received the credit due him. It is only fitting that his work should be acknowledged in the centenary of the year in which it was described. The following account is composed primarily of quotations from his published papers. For additional information on Greenfield, reference may be made to the scries of papers by Wilson (1979a, b). It may be pointed out that the method of attenuating the virulence of bacilli recorded by Pasteur in relation to the bacillus of fowl cholera was, like that of anthrax vaccine, anticipated by Greenfield.

Hide All
Annotations (1880). M. Pasteur's inoculations. Lancet ii, 782–3.
Annotations (1881). The chair of pathology in Edinburgh. Lancet i, 670.
Drennan, A. M. (1958). Letter to Professor Frank G. Young. (Kindly mndo availablo to mo by Sir Frank.)
Editorial (1878). Tlio Brown Institute British Medical Journal ii, 848.
Greenfield, W. S. (1880 a). Lectures on some recent investigations into the pathology of infective and contagious diseases. Lecture I. Lancel i, 83–5.
Greenfield, W. S. (1880 b). Lectures on some recent investigations into tho pathology of infectious and contagious diseases. Lecture I, part iv. Lancel i, 631–3.
Greenfield, W. S. (1880 c). Lectures on somo recent investigations into tho pathology of infectious and contagious diseases. Lecture III, part I. Lancet i, 805–7.
Greenfield, W. S. (1880 d). Brown Institution. (Quoted in Notes, Comments, and Answers to Correspondents.) Lancet i, 580.
Greenfield, W. S. (1880 e). Lectures on some recent investigations into tho pathology of infectious and contagious diseases. Lecture III, part ll. Lancet ii, 41–4.
Greenfield, W. S. (1881 a). Further investigations on anthrax and allied diseases in man and animals. Lecturo II. Lancet i, 34.
Greenfield, W. S. (1881 b). Report on an experimental investigation on anthrax and allied diseases, made at tho Brown Institution. Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society 42, 3044.
Greenfield, W. S. (1881 c). Inaugural address on pathology, past and present. Lancet ii, 738–41, 781-G.
Greenfield, W. S. (1883). Malignant pustule. In A Dictionary of Medicine(ed. Quain, R.), pp. 1305–7. New York: Apploton & Co.
Lister, J. (1880). Remarks on microorganisms: their relation to disease. British Medical Journal ii, 363–5.
Paris Correspondent – Lancet (1880). Lancet ii, 750–2.
Simon, J. (1881). Inaugural address. Transactions of the Inter nalioival Medical Congress(ed. MacCormac, W.). London: J. W. Klockmann. vol. iv, pp. 409–10.
Vallery-Radot, R. (1902). The Life of Pasteur, vol. II, p. 90. Translation from tho French by Mrs R. L. Dovonshiro. London: Constablo &Co.
Wilson, G. S. (1979 a). The Brown Animal Sanatory Institution. Journal of Hygiene 82, 337–52, 501–21.
Wilson, G. S. (1979 b). The Brown Animal Sanatory Institution. Journal of Hygiene 83, 171–97.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed