What happens when a poisonous snake bites you? Do you rush about to find a sharp object so you can slice an “X” into the wound and suck the poison out? Or do you rush to the hospital so that you can have an anti-venom given to you? Thanks to the world of Albert Calmette, the second option is often the best choice for people who are bitten by poisonous snakes. Born in 1863 in France and with a passion for the Navy, Calmette even served in the Naval Medical Corps after studying at the School of Naval Physicians.
Calmette might be famous for developing the first anti venom, which is still called Calmette’s Serum, but his work has been influential in a number of additional ways as well. Here is a look at the life’s work of Albert Calmette.
1. The BCG Vaccine
Calmette has his name on another item that is still given to people today as well, the BCG vaccine. He’s got the “C” in the BCG. This vaccine, although it was invented over 100 years ago, is still listed as one of the world’s essential medicines by the United Nations. In high risk countries where tuberculosis is uncontrolled, this vaccine is given at birth to infants so that they receive a high level of protection against the disease.
Over the years, additional research has discovered that the BCG vaccine is also useful in fighting other diseases as well. It has become the foundation of many cancer vaccine research studies, has been proven effective against leprosy, and can even help to treat bothersome ulcers. Developed with Camille Guerin, this vaccine is just as influential as anti-venom in being able to treat stricken people.
2. Serum For the Bubonic Plague
Another terrible disease that has been thought to have wiped out large sections of humanity over the centuries is the Bubonic Plague. Thanks to the stories about the Black Death, it is one of the most feared diseases in existence still today, even if infections are considered rather rare. Working with Alexandre Yersin, Calmette’s research helped to discover and then identify the specific pathogenic agent that caused the disease development in humans. His work led to the development of vaccines and treatments for the disease and his work in fighting the Bubonic Plaque in Portugal is still remembered today.
3. Faster Vaccine Distribution
One of the early problems in vaccine development wasn’t identifying or even creating the vaccine. The knowledge was there to produce protections for people. The problem was that it was difficult to produce vaccines on a large enough scale where they would be useful to larger populations. Calmette used his early research and Naval connections to begin working with Louis Pasteur and his work with Pasteur’s organization led him to developing distribution principles for vaccines that would quickly protect people. During his time in a leadership position, Calmette helped to spread vaccines for rabies and smallpox.
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