Archive for ‘Medical History’

February 4, 2018

The Truth About the Discovery of the Smallpox Vaccine

Jenner didn’t discover that cowpox protected against smallpox, a simple Country Doctor did. The story appears in this week’s The New England Journal of Medicine:

Two hundred fifty years ago, an almost-forgotten country doctor made an observation while inoculating a group of farmers against smallpox. Although John Fewster never appreciated the importance of his discovery, he told his colleagues what he had found, setting in motion a process that led to the development of the smallpox vaccine and the eventual eradication of the virus. All immunizations arguably have their origins in this event.

February 20, 2011

Hippocratic Fingers

Hippocrates continues to fascinate me. I wasn’t aware that he discovered the association between fingertip clubbing and lung disease. Here is a 2008 article about the actual mechanism behind the clinical sign:

Click to read Medics Solve an Ancient Riddle — and offer a new tool for diagnosis.

And in the latest issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, there is a picture of clubbing of the toes, but not of the fingers, in a patient with patent ductus arteriosus:

Click to read Differential Clubbing and Cyanosis.