Diphtheria, according to the CDC, is “a infection caused by Corynebacterium dipheriae” that “causes a thick covering in the back of the throat. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and even death.”
In 1826, Pierre Bretonneau, a French physician, called the disease diphtérite and distinguished diphtheria from scarlet fever. In 1883, Swiss-German pathologist, Edwin Klebs, identified the bacterium that causes diphtheria and in 1884, Friedrich Loeffler, first cultivated the bacterium, which resulted in its first name of Klebs-Loeffler bacterium (it is now called Corynebacterium diphtheria). In 1890 Kitasato Shibasaburo, a Japanese physician and bacteriologist, and Emil von Behring, a German physiologist who would win the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1901 for his work on diphtheria, successfully immunized guinea pigs with a heat-treated diphtheria toxin. On Oct. 16, 1894 two Cincinnati physicians successfully treated a two-year-old girl with a diphtheria antitoxin. On Dec. 4, 1894 the New York City Board of Health regulated the purity and potency of diphtheria antitoxin. In 1895 the Mulford Company of Philadelphia (later Merck) and the New York City Health Department started producing and testing diphtheria antitoxin using guinea pigs and horses. In 1897 Paul Ehrlich, a German scientist, developed a method to measure the potency of diphtheria antitoxin. In 1907 Emil von Behring demonstrated that mixing the diphtheria antitoxin and toxin provided a safe immunity to diphtheria in humans. In 1914 William H. Park developed a toxin/antitoxin mixture diphtheria immunization. In 1923 Gaston Ramon, French veterinarian and biologist at the Pasteur Institute in France, developed diphtheria toxoid that could later be used for a toxoid vaccination at the same time as Alexander Thomas Glenny, a London physician at Wellcome Research Laboratories. Glenny would develop the adjuvant (the substance that enhances the body’s immune response to an antigen) for the toxoid vaccine in 1926.
Tetanus, according to the CDC, is “a serious disease that causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. It can lead to ‘locking’ of the jaw so the victim cannot open his mouth or swallow. Tetanus leads to death in about 1 in 10 cases.”
Records from the fifth century first describe tetanus (lockjaw). Giorgio Rattone and Antonio Carle, Italian scientists, first produced tetanus in animals by injecting them with pus from a human case in 1884, the same year Arthur Nicolaier, a German internist, produced tetanus in animals by injecting them with soil samples. In 1889, Kitasato Shibasaburo isolated the tetanus toxin from a human and proved that the toxin can be neutralized by antibodies. In 1897, Edmond Nocard, a French microbiologist and veterinarian, demonstrated passive immunization. Gaston Ramon inactivated the tetanus toxoid with formaldehyde in the early 1920s. In 1924, P. Descombey produced the tetanus toxoid that was used in the US military during World War II.
PERTUSSIS (WHOOPING COUGH)
Pertussis (whooping cough), according to the CDC, “is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. Although it initially resembles an ordinary cold, whooping cough may eventually turn more serious, especially in infants.”
In 1900 Jules Bordet and Octave Gengou, Belgian scientists, first observed Bordetella pertussis and then isolated the pertussis bacterium in 1906, it was called Bordet-Gengou bacillus. In 1925 Thorvald Madsen, a Danish physician, tested the pertussis vaccine; the 1925 report suggested the vaccine was a success but a 1933 report stated that two children may have died from the vaccine. In 1939, the pertussis vaccine was shown to be effective by Pearl Kendrick, PhD, and Grace Elderding, PhD, American scientists.
In 1948, the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) combination vaccine was developed.
Below are seven graphs:
1. Diptheria Cases, 1950-2013
2. Diptheria Deaths, 1950-2013
3. Tetanus Cases, 1950-2013
4. Tetanus Deaths, 1950-2013
5. Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Cases, 1950-2013
6. Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Deaths, 1950-2013
7. DTaP Vaccination Rates for Children under Three Years Old, 1995-2014
As of Aug. 18, 2014, the CDC recommends that children receive the first dose of the DTaP vaccination at 2 months of age.