The Importance of the Influenza Vaccine Essay

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Illnesses have long haunted the human race. As long as these illnesses have existed, humans have developed ways to cure themselves, beginning with simple herbs and proceeding as far as vaccines and complex medicines. One cure that long eluded scientists was that of the influenza virus. Now, the influenza vaccine, or flu shot, saves thousands of lives a year and helps prevent serious complications resulting from influenza infection. At no time was a search for the cure for influenza more frantic than after the devastating effects of the pandemic of 1918. The pandemic killed somewhere between twenty and a hundred million people, making it twenty five times more deadly than the ordinary cough and sneeze flu. The symptoms of this flu…show more content…
The first attempt was a great success, but when they tried the same experiment again, the second pig remained perfectly healthy. Even after repeating this experiment dozens of times, a pig never became sick. While working with the yellow fever virus in his lab, Paul Lewis became infected with it and died. Robert Shope, even though distressed at the loss of his mentor, continued the influenza research, going back to the idea that the flu was caused by a virus. To act upon his theory, Shope filtered the mucus from sick pigs through a filter that allows only viruses through. He administered the virus to healthy pigs, but they did not become infected. Shope was beginning to believe that the cause of influenza is what is known as multifactorial, when a disease has no single cause. He postulated that perhaps the virus and the bacterium must work together to cause influenza. Professor Wilson Smith, Sir Christopher Andrewes, and Sir P. P. Laidlaw were investigating a pandemic in England at the same time as Shope was conducting his research. They began attempting to infect ferrets by giving them filtered human mucus that contained influenza virus; the first experiment was a resounding success. By collaborating together, these scientists learned that the cause of influenza was a virus. In the years after Richard Shope made his discovery, scientists continued to research influenza. In 1936, these scientists discovered that influenza can be grown in
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