Saturday, November 14, 2009

More from the history of infectious disease

Another picture from the Halloween plague event. (I was hoping this one would get in the newspaper article, but it didn't.)

This woman is helping kids make plague masks, like the one worn by the statue in my earlier post, out of construction paper. But it's something else that's really interesting. She's not just dressed in period costume, she's dressed as a particular person from the history of infectious disease: Sarah Nelmes, who was the milkmaid of Edward Jenner. Jenner basically invented vaccination when he noticed that people like his milkmaid who'd had the related disease cowpox were immune to smallpox.

But the best part was after I wrote all that down and I asked her name. Which is also Nelmes. She thinks she's probably a relation, since her family originated in the same part of England.

(If you click to see the large version of the photo, you can see that she has costume wounds on her hands to represent the cowpox pustules.)

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