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E. A Historical Look at How One Disease Fights Another

Narrator: This is Science Today. The concept of one disease fighting off or preventing another is not new. In fact, one of the best known examples dates back to 1798, when Edward Jenner used cowpox to prevent smallpox.

Stiehm: Jenner found out that milkmaids who were milking cows got an illness called cowpox and they were subsequently immune to getting smallpox. So, he took the material the source from this one girl and gave it to a child and this child was protected against smallpox. And so cowpox, which is the disease that cows get protects against another disease called smallpox.

Narrator: Dr. E. Richard Stiehm, a professor of pediatrics at UCLA, has written a paper chronicling the phenomenon of disease vs. disease and says the concept could possibly be used today.

Stiehm: This concept that one disease makes another disease less severe tells us a great deal about both diseases and often will lead to therapeutic advances, vaccines, special diets, etc.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.