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Smallpox today has been almost eradicated worldwide. Yet only seventy-five years ago the disease made its appearance at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and prompted a mass vaccination of students and faculty members. The Daily Nebraskan, the campus newspaper, of February 18, 1925, reported:

"Four hundred students and faculty were vaccinated yesterday following an announcement that a student in the pharmacy department has contracted smallpox. The only case of the disease reported is of the ordinary type and not of the virulent type that recently caused the death of a number of students in the University of Minnesota.

"All the students in the pharmacy department who might have been exposed to the disease have been vaccinated according to Dr. Lyman. Precautions have been taken to disinfect the seats in the one room in the chemistry department that the stricken student may have occupied.

"'Unless the disease spreads,' said Chancellor Avery yesterday, 'no drastic measures will be taken; but all students, faculty and employees of the university are urged to make arrangements for vaccination. If an epidemic threatens we will be compelled to require vaccination certificates before all classes. Arrangements for daily health examinations will be made for those who refuse to be vaccinated, should the occasions demand it. We have gone through three sessions of smallpox in past years and are taking every precaution to prevent another.'

"Vaccination by private physicians is recommended as they can care and guard against the only real danger, namely that of secondary infection. However, the University clinic in the Pharmacy building or the City Health office located above the Fire Department building will vaccinate those who apply, free of charge, with all antiseptic precautions.

"Certificates of vaccination should be carefully preserved as they may become a requisite for entrance to classes should the disease spread and such a course become a necessity. Students who have been exposed and already contracted the disease, if vaccinated at once, will suffer only a mild attack. Also all risk of contracting the disease or annoyance incident to securing of a daily certificate may be avoided by securing a vaccination immediately."

(December 1999)



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