In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll tell how Spanish authorities found an ingenious way to use orphans to bring the smallpox vaccine to the American colonies in 1803. The Balmis Expedition overcame the problems of transporting a fragile vaccine over a long voyage and is credited with saving at least 100,000 lives in the New World.
We’ll also get some listener updates to the Lady Be Good story and puzzle over why a man would find it more convenient to drive two cars than one.
Sources for our segment on the Balmis expedition:
J. Antonio Aldrete, “Smallpox Vaccination in the Early 19th Century Using Live Carriers: The Travels of Francisco Xavier de Balmis,” Southern Medical Journal, April 2004.
Carlos Franco-Paredes, Lorena Lammoglia and José Ignacio Santos-Preciado, “The Spanish Royal Philanthropic Expedition to Bring Smallpox Vaccination to the New World and Asia in the 19th Century,” Clinical Infectious Diseases, Nov. 1, 2005.
Catherine Mark and José G. Rigau-Pérez, “The World’s First Immunization Campaign: The Spanish Smallpox Vaccine Expedition, 1803-1813,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Spring 2009.
John W.R. McIntyre, “Smallpox and Its Control in Canada,” Canadian Medical Association Journal, Dec. 14, 1999.
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Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.