Zinsser Develops an Immunization Against Typhus (Great Events from History II: Science and Technology Series)
Article abstract: Zinsser demonstrated clinical differences in forms of typhus and developed an effective vaccine against the disease.
Summary of Event
As a bacteriologist and immunologist, Hans Zinsser was interested in the epidemiology of infectious diseases. During an outbreak of typhus in Serbia in 1915, he traveled with a Red Cross team in order to study the clinical and pathological aspects of the disease. He made subsequent trips to the Soviet Union in 1923, Mexico in 1931, and China in 1938. His observations supported the commonly held belief that typhus was caused by an organism, the rickettsia, isolated and named by Henrique da Rocha-Lima in 1916 for Howard T. Ricketts. The organism was known to be borne by a louse or a rat flea and transmitted to humans by way of a bite. The unsanitary living conditions resulting from poverty and overcrowding provided an atmosphere conducive for the spread of the disease.
The rickettsia are microorganisms whose shape ranges from rod to spherical. Within the carrier’s body, the rickettsia stimulate the cells of endothelial tissue to use phagocytosis (eat up) so that the microorganism could enter and live in the cytoplasm of the endothelial cell, which line the gut of the insect. The rickettsia multiplies within the tissue and...
(The entire section is 2022 words.)
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