5. Cholera & Bubonic Plague Vaccines

Cholera and the bubonic plague devastated central Asia and India in the mid-19th century. Thanks to the rise in global trade, the cholera pandemic had migrated to Europe and the United States by 1827, and spread in a series of outbreaks to Africa and South America. Cholera is recognized as one of the most widespread and deadly diseases of the 19th century, killing tens of millions of people. The bubonic plague, on the other hand, was first recorded in the sixth century. It is perhaps best known as the black death, which ravaged Europe in the middle ages in what is now considered the most deadly disease outbreak in history. But by the mid-19th century there was still no vaccine, and small outbreaks continued from India to Hawaii. Though still in existence today, the bubonic plague is near eradicated, while cholera continues to to affect millions of people.

The J-Connection?

Back in the 1300s, Jews were sometimes blamed for outbreaks of the black death. More recently, Jewish bacteriologist Waldemar Haffkine is credited as the first microbiologist to develop vaccines against cholera and bubonic plague. Risking his own life, he tested each vaccine on himself, and even moved to India to be closer to the source of the outbreaks. For his work, British surgeon Sir Joseph Lister named Haffkine “a savior of humanity,” and he was knighted in 1897.