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Immunization, the practice of inducing immunity (especially to infection) in a person or animal.

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Introduction

immunization, the practice of inducing immunity (especially to infection) in a person or animal. This is usually achieved by vaccination, in which a vaccine (a preparation containing antigens) is used to stimulate the production of antibodies and therefore induce active immunity. The vaccine is usually administered by injection, and generally contains either live but attenuated organisms (reduced in virulence), or dead organisms which retain their ability to stimulate antibody production. Active immunity lasts many years. Passive immunity is induced by the administration of antibodies against a particular infection (passive immunization). Antibodies collected from humans are called immunoglobulins, and those from animals, antisera. Passive immunity lasts for only a few weeks. The earliest form of immunization was variolation, a type of inoculation against smallpox in which part of a scab from a smallpox sufferer was introduced into a scratch on the recipient's skin. The practice, developed in about the 5th century AD in India, was potentially very dangerous, since it involved the live smallpox virus, but it greatly reduced overall mortality from the disease. Variolation was not known in Europe until 1721, when Mary Montagu, the wife of the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, introduced it from Turkey. In 1796 Jenner successfully protected an 8-year-old boy from smallpox by inoculating him with the related but much less dangerous cowpox virus. In 1885 Pasteur adopted Jenner's principles to find a vaccine against rabies. Vaccines have subsequently been produced for other diseases and non-infectious agents, including diphtheria (by the German immunologist Emil von Behring in 1889) and snake venom (by Ehrlich in 1889). In 1890 von Behring and Kitasato first showed that immunity was due to antibodies that appeared in the blood a few days after immunization. In the richer countries of the world, mass immunization of children against major childhood diseases has been successful in reducing morbidity and mortality rates. In 1974 when the World Health Organization launched the Expanded Programme on Immunization, fewer than 5 per cent of children in developing countries were immunized. ...read more.

Middle

In the latter half of the 19th century, Louis Pasteur, Heinrich Koch, and others began to identify the micro-organisms that caused infectious diseases and this led to further research into their prevention and cure. Vaccination against smallpox, first described by Edward Jenner in 1798, resulted in its global eradication by 1979. The now routine use of vaccines against other common infectious diseases, including polio, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, and German measles, has greatly limited their spread. In the 20th century drugs were developed that could cure many infectious diseases. In 1910 Paul Ehrlich introduced salvarsan, the first effective cure for syphilis and, following the development of sulphonamides in the 1930s and antibiotics in the 1940s (penicillin was first used in 1941), many life-threatening diseases caused by bacteria and fungi can now be treated, resulting in greater life expectancy. However, the indiscriminate use of antibiotics has resulted in the development of resistant strains of bacteria and a resurgence of the infections they cause. In addition, antibiotics are ineffective against viruses and treatment for some virus infections has proved much more difficult; antiviral drugs have had limited success, notably in treating infections caused by herpes viruses. There is still no cure for influenza, an epidemic of which killed up to fifteen million people in 1918-19, nor for the HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) which can result in Aids (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), whose symptoms were first recognized in 1979. Cures are still needed for some tropical parasitic diseases. The toll of sickness and death from communicable diseases is low in the wealthier countries of the world, but remains high in developing countries, as data from the World Health Organization show (see also epidemiology). Malaria poses a major threat, with an estimated 100 million acute cases a year. There are 8 million new cases of tuberculosis a year and 3 million die from it, many of them young adults. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, the indiscriminate use of antibiotics has resulted in the development of resistant strains of bacteria and a resurgence of the infections they cause. In addition, antibiotics are ineffective against viruses and treatment for some virus infections has proved much more difficult; antiviral drugs have had limited success, notably in treating infections caused by herpes viruses. There is still no cure for influenza, an epidemic of which killed up to fifteen million people in 1918-19, nor for the HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) which can result in Aids (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), whose symptoms were first recognized in 1979. Cures are still needed for some tropical parasitic diseases. The toll of sickness and death from communicable diseases is low in the wealthier countries of the world, but remains high in developing countries, as data from the World Health Organization show (see also epidemiology). Malaria poses a major threat, with an estimated 100 million acute cases a year. There are 8 million new cases of tuberculosis a year and 3 million die from it, many of them young adults. As a result of the epidemic of Aids, of which tuberculosis is a manifestation, its incidence is increasing rapidly, particularly in Africa. Many communicable diseases are chronic, with the result that debilitated sufferers are a constant source of reinfection. Among these are amoebic dysentery, with which WHO believes 400 million are infected, and schistosomiasis (bilharsiasis), with which 200 million are infected. Even where it seems that diseases have disappeared, they may reoccur, as the major cholera epidemic in Peru, which broke out in 1991, the first there for a century, showed7Company, Inc. Copyright (c) 1997 TLC Properties Inc. All rights reserved. 8Excerpted from The Oxford Interactive Encyclopedia. Developed by The Learning Company, Inc. Copyright (c) 1997 TLC Properties Inc. All rights reserved. 9Excerpted from The Oxford Interactive Encyclopedia. Developed by The Learning Company, Inc. Copyright (c) 1997 TLC Properties Inc. All rights reserved. ...read more.

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