Review of Reviews, 7 (1893), 88–91.
Vaccination Against Asiatic Cholera. By a Lady Who Has Been Vaccinated
A T G
Vaccination, Controversy, Medical Treatment, Institutions, Endeavour, Bacteriology, Disease, Humanism, Experiment, Gender, Laboratories, Heroism
In a brief introduction, the editor insists that he has no intention of 'in any way committing myself to either side of the fierce controversy that rages round the great vivisectionist', but is nevertheless glad to print an article 'by an American lady who has shown her faith in Pasteurism'. After describing the 'strength of character' and 'tenacity of purpose' which have characterised Louis Pasteur's long scientific career and declaring that 'the facts he wrenched from Nature are now admitted by all', the author of the article details the current programme of research undertaken at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, which was 'built by public subscription five years ago'. Although Pasteur has become 'heart-sick with human stupidity' and 'stubbornness', and for 'a long time after the discussions upon inoculation against rabies nothing would have induced the great scientist to introduce any new discovery to the public', he now, at the moment of his seventieth birthday, takes enormous 'satisfaction in the triumph of his brilliant disciple, Monsieur W. M. Haffkine, in having succeeded in transforming and inoculating the cholera microbe'. Indeed, 'the humanitarian problem now at stake' with regard to cholera is so great, that 'the veteran savant has buckled on his armour and descended once more into the arena of controversy'. (89) The author recounts how she put herself forward to be treated with the experimental inoculation because although 'a number of men had been inoculated successfully with cholera, there was necessarily a doubt about the effect it would have upon women'. She then describes her visit to the Institut Pasteur, where she is particularly struck by the youthful good looks of Haffkine (he is 'blond, tall, erect, remarkably well-built') as well as 'the curiosities of his laboratories—a veritable treasure-house of every ill that "flesh is heir to"', which include several test-tubes of cholera microbes. (90) A diary records her sensations after having been injected with these microbes, and relates how, after two or three hours of feeling 'nothing abnormal', 'discreet little pains begin at the point of inoculation, and increase, until getting up and sitting down become matters of serious reflection, especially when your family and friends have no idea that you have been trying to do the heroic'. In order to 'test its efficacy to the utmost', Haffkine proposes applying his method to an area particularly prone to cholera epidemics, and Pasteur has already received permission to do this from King Rama V of Siam. Concludes with the hope that 'cholera may be stamped out within the next few years' if 'the public' offer their assistance to Haffkine's experimental research. (91)
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