Diphtheria in the current era of universal vaccination

Diphtheria is a vaccination preventable infectious disease with local and systemic complications predominantly affecting upper respiratory tract in younger (<5-year age) children. Its virulence is due to its ability to produce toxin which can cause fatal complications such as myocarditis and permanent damage in form of peripheral neuropathy. Diagnosis of diphtheria is primarily clinical supported by demonstration of toxin producing bacteria by culture. Early diagnosis and management with diphtheria anti-toxin can prevent mortality and morbidity.

An examination of John Fewster’s role in the discovery of smallpox vaccination

Edward Jenner is recognised today as the father of vaccination but, as this paper explores, he was not the only Gloucestershire doctor to be linked to this discovery. John Fewster, a local surgeon and apothecary, is also said to have experimented with vaccination, many years before Jenner. This claim is made in a letter addressed to John Coakley Lettsom, written by John Player, a Quaker farmer. Player describes in detail Fewster’s realisation that cowpox could be used to protect against smallpox. This letter is frequently cited but has not previously been subjected to critical analysis.