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Infection and immunity
Infection and immunity

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Session 2: Scientific lessons from the history of infectious diseases

Introduction

In Session 2 you'll look at the conditions in England in the 18th and 19th centuries which help to explain the high rates of death and sickness in the past from infectious diseases, such as cholera and smallpox. Similar living conditions still exist in parts of the world where infectious diseases remain the principal threat to health. Evidence for the impact of infectious diseases on populations comes partly from statistical studies of data on deaths from infection, which began in England in the 19th century.

You will analyse two classic experiments from the history of infectious diseases to identify the key features of the scientific method of investigation. These are significant because the origins of public health and mass vaccination programmes can be traced back to these two experiments. One of these classic experiments eventually contributed to the eradication of smallpox.

In the video, Dr Claire Rostron, Senior Lecturer in Health Sciences at The Open University, describes this in more detail.

Download this video clip.Video player: sdk100_video2.mp4
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