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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)
Summary

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.

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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.
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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.
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Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection
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