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Saturday, 25 October 2014


Charles Sherrington became in 1894 the first physician to use the diphtheria antitoxin in Britain. It was developed a few years previously by the German doctor Emil von Behring, to counter the highly infectious diphtheria disease that particularly infects children. Behring showed for the first time that, the effects of a bacterial infection can be largely due to a potent toxin produced by the bacteria.

The mortality rate of infants who caught the disease had been around 35% so the introduction of the diphtheria antitoxin improved the medical profession's image in the eyes of the public. Parents were awed that this new treatment is so highly effective in immunizing their children against such a contagious disease.

Alaska's annual 1,149-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race commemorates the 1925 "Race for Life" when 20 volunteer mushers relayed medicine from Anchorage to Nome to battle a children's diphtheria epidemic.

The Baby Ruth candy bar was named after President Grover Cleveland’s baby daughter, Ruth. She later died from diphtheria at the age of 12.

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