Can Cows Save the World?
Vaccinations were first developed by British doctor Edward Jenner in 1796. He famously noticed that milk maids were resistant to the disease, small pox. He made the connection that it was because of their exposure to the much milder cow pox. His highly unethical experiment to prove his theory involved exposing an eight year old boy to pus from cow pox pustule and then showing that the boy was immune to small pox.
Since then, many of our medical advances have centered on developing new ways to tackle old diseases. We are also using molecular biology to understand how diseases work and for their accurate diagnosis – often as crucial as the right treatment. However, prevention is still better than cure for infectious diseases so vaccinations play an important role in our medical care system.
In 1998, vaccinations became a topic of controversy when British scientists, led by Andrew Wakefield, suggested there was a link between autism and the MMR (measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccination. The media picked up the story and ran with it. No one in the scientific community seriously believes such a link exists. Regardless, the level of childhood vaccinations has fallen to a level that children are once again developing old diseases like mumps.
Organizations like the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in the U.S. and the National Health Service in the UK, advise that there is no evidence whatsoever of a connection between MMR and autism. It is merely a coincidence that these diseases emerge around the age that children are given the MMR vaccination.