This is one of the lesser known stories from the history of modern medicine. It's a story about how a horse named Jim was blamed for the deaths of 13 children and inspired the regulations which were foundational to the formation of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Buckle up, Moonbats, we are talking about some serious horsepower here!
Let me tell you a story.
While working on a history of vaccination science and the language used to describe it (1, 2, & 3), I learned of a particular horse named Jim. It took a lot of digging, but eventually I tracked Jim down. I found Jim in St. Louis, Missouri, way back in 1901.
What is horse serum, you ask? Well, it's what is known as a biologic. Horse serum was an early form of antibody therapy.
Jenner's vaccine and variolation were not the only methods in use for immunization during the early years of the science of vaccination. Another method was the injection of a serum, also known as anti-toxin. For a time, there was no distinction made between the two, and in some instances the serum was referred to as a vaccine. To some back then, apparently, anything injected by syringe was synonymous with vaccine, and now the current corporate media climate appears to be moving in that same general direction, but, I digress.
Horse serum was a crude form of antibody therapy. The method commonly used for creating the serum involved infecting a horse with the virus (or bacterium) and using blood drawn from the convalescent horse to collect antibodies for injection into humans on the belief that this would confer immunity to the target pathogen.
Although crude, it was often effective, though the immune response was of short duration. That is, of course, provided that the source horse was free from other pathogens during the serum production process and the recipient was able to tolerate the serum.
Horse serum was produced for several diseases, including, but not limited to, Diphtheria, Poliomyelitis, and Rabies.
For a time, horse serum was a popular treatment for many diseases. Some reasonable people preferred to avoid the allegedly prophylactic vaccines in favor of using horse serum when infection occurred.
However, at the turn of the twentieth century, the Yellow Press and their patent medicine advertisers were gifted with a convenient narrative with which to attack horse serum as being inferior to vaccine induced antibodies.
The Yellow Press were able to trumpet the spectacular failure of the horse serum method in an incident which resulted in the deaths of 13 children from tetanus that had contaminated the serum. This is known as the St. Louis Tragedy of 1901 or "St. Louis incident".
It's an interesting coincidence that the horse serum in question was intended to treat diphtheria and around the same time there were many failed attempts to develop a vaccine for diphtheria.
Also around the same time, there was another incident in Camden, New Jersey, in which 9 children died after inoculation with tetanus contaminated vaccines, However, from what I have been able to find, it appears that the Yellow Press gave more coverage to the horse serum incident
It was these twin tragedies which inspired the first law regarding vaccination in the USA, which was passed in 1902. But, you will never hear mention of the 1902 Biologics Control Act (also known as the Virus-Toxins Act) from any alleged scientific experts presented by the corporate media.
There is a Wikipedia page for a horse named Jim. There is no Wikipedia page for the Camden incident.
The first reference on the Wikipedia entry for the 1902 Biologics Control Act is a link to what is known as "The St. Louis Tragedy of 1901" but the link is broken. It will take you to the FDA website where you will get the message "page not found." That's not suspicious, is it? The page describing the 1901 incident which inspired the creation of the original 1902 law which laid the foundation for creation of the Food and Drug Administration in 1906 can't be easily found on the FDA website through the Wikipedia reference link? Curious, yes?
The title of that article is "The St. Louis Tragedy and Enactment of the 1902 Biologics Control Act" and had been filed under the section "100 Years of Biologics Regulation" which has been scrubbed from the site. Why would this 100 years of history section be deleted by the FDA? And, why would the website "HistoryofVaccines.org" likewise delete their horse serum page which presented the some of same information? Did you notice that the first embedded link regarding the St. Louis Tragedy on Wikipedia is to a PubMed page for which no abstract is available? Why is that?
You know why, whether you want to admit it or not. It's to keep as many people as possible ignorant of the true history of vaccination science and policy.
After searching for "Biologics Control Act" and "St. Louis Tragedy" I was able to locate the FDA website article. It has been moved to a different URL, but no one bothered to inform the editors at Wikipedia and none of them have bothered to check if the links for that particular entry are still valid. This sort of information is not made easy to find, even if you know what are the proper search terms for producing the most accurate results.
Enough with the Wikipedia/FDA tangent. I included this information as a demonstration of how things are changed and information is hidden away. How many people actually look up the Biologics Control Act on Wikipedia and check out the references? How many people actually go to the FDA website to read their official history, anyway?
I know, I am that rare weirdo who stays home alone on Saturday nights and spends hours reading case reports, clinical trials, and reviews of the scientific literature regarding vaccines, virii and the microbiome as published on PubMed with diversions to the FDA, CDC, and WHO websites as well as a number of academic publications. Yes, that curiosity and an above average level of intelligence are my only qualifications for writing this. But, this is not about me, I am simply your humble guide to the information. I apologize for the divergence to tangents and personal indulgence, this is my conversational writing style shining through. Let's get back to the information you came here expecting.
We were learning about horse serum.
According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, serum is defined as "the watery, clear portion of an animal fluid: a: the clear, yellowish fluid that remains from blood plasma after clotting factors (such as fibrinogen and prothrombin) have been removed by clot formation : BLOOD SERUM b: a normal or pathological serous fluid (as in a blister)". The first known usage was in 1651, and in the sense of serum used for immunization 1876; although, also according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the first usage of the term immunization wasn't recorded until 1889 (if you have read previous posts you know that Merriam Webster has some accuracy issues).
The production of these serums didn't become regulated or standardized in the USA until 1903, after passage of the Biologics Control Act of 1902. Additional legislation was passed in 1906 as the Federal Food and Drugs Act which was replaced by the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act.
How was horse serum produced, you ask? Well, you may want to grab a bucket or barf bag before you continue reading.
Here is an extremely simplified description of the process of producing horse serum for treatment of Poliomyelitis:
First, since horses are not affected by poliomyelitis, you need to make immune monkey serum.
To make immune monkey serum, first, infect some monkeys with what is believed or suspected to be the virus (the electron microscope didn't exist in 1901). Then, take the surviving monkeys, which therefore have assumed natural immunity, and kill them. Next, grind up their spinal cord and medulla oblongata and let it sit for a few months. Then, inject that concoction into a horse in increasing doses over the course of several days. If the horse survives, draw blood from the horse. Next, process the horse blood in a centrifuge to separate out the plasma from the red blood cells. Finally, inject the processed serum into people. If they survive, declare that they have successfully been immunized by transfer of antibodies.
Medical Science! Isn't it amazing?
Now, horse serum produced from the unfortunate Jim was not the only biological product to have killed numerous children in 1901. Another nine children likewise died of tetanus in Camden, Massachusetts, after injection with contaminated smallpox vaccines.
This second tragedy is even more difficult to find information on than the fatally flawed Jim. This is understandable as blaming vaccines, even rightly so, for the resulting adverse events runs counter to the narrative favored by the corporate media and the advertisers who pay to keep the show running.
Of course, the media landscape of 1901 was considerably different from what passes for journalism these days. Newspaper coverage of the twenty-two dead children in these twin tragedies prompted the passage of the Biologics Control Act of 1902 (also known as the Virus-Toxin Law). This was the very first regulation of anti-toxin serums, vaccines and other biological products.
This new law was intended to prevent a repeat of the tragedy of St. Louis, but did not end the production of horse serum. In fact, horse serum has been in continuous production ever since.
Specifically in regards to horse serum for treatment of Poliomyelitis, from what I have been able to find, it was in production as early as 1897 and as late as 1918. In 1918, a study was published which found no antibodies effective against Poliovirus in horse serum produced from "Poliomyelitic Material" (monkey brain & spine smoothie). Oddly enough, another study, also in 1918, found that monkeys injected with Poliovirus did not develop paralysis, but those given both an injection of the virus and an intraspinal injection of normal horse serum did develop paralysis.
Shhh... Don't tell anyone, but, using a syringe to draw spinal fluid to "relieve pressure" was a common treatment for paralysis attributed to Poliomyelitis. Additionally, Horse serum for treatment of Poliomyelitis was injected into the spine; with the exception in some case of infants where it was recommended to inject the serum into the jugular vein. Spinal cord injury and infection can lead to paralysis. This practice of routine lumbar puncture in the treatment of Poliomyelitis was quietly dropped by most medical professionals and institutions around the same time as the Polio vaccines were rolled out to the terrorized public. But, I digress.
We were talking about horse serum.
The fact that horse serum has been produced to treat SARS-CoV-2 has been suppressed by the corporate media in the USA, because the Emergency Use Authorization for the mRNA vaccines hinges on there being no available treatment.
However, although there has been some successful treatment with horse serum, it is not an appropriate therapy for everyone. Unfortunately, as much as 50% of the global population is allergic to horse serum. This discrepancy in efficacy is no doubt the reason why horse serum is less often used and therefore less well known today.
Most people are aware of snake antivenin which is used in emergency rooms around the world for treatment of snake bites. Most people are not aware that the anti-toxin is a horse serum. Unfortunately, due to the inability to tolerate horse serum, some snake bite victims will succumb to the venom despite antivenin being available.
To pile on one more inconvenient fact which makes the case against horse serum, in 1977 a study regarding the high incidence of horse serum protein allergy in autoimmune disorders was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. And, despite this history, far too many in the medical community continue to be gung-ho about injection of foreign proteins.
Suffice it to say that one-size-fits-all medicine is crude, based on flawed assumptions, and often ineffective or damaging. One-size-fits-all medicine will amputate your feet to fit you into a standardized hospital bed.
Now that you are aware of the legacy of a horse named Jim, you know to be careful which horse you bet on. And, maybe you are beginning to see how the race is rigged.
Personally, my thoughts race like wild horses over the hills into an uncertain future.
Until next time, Moonbats, remember to water your horses and make certain that your mind expands farther and faster than your belly!
*Why did I specify "this particular horse named Jim" here? Because after the tragedy in St Louis, naming a horse Jim became somewhat popular in fiction as well as allegedly true inspirational animal stories and such. You have to dig deep in the bucket of horses named Jim to uncover this particular horse named Jim.