Journal of Regional Section of Serbian Medical Association in Zajecar

Year 2011     Vol 36     No 2
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      UDK 616.912-085.371(497.11)(091)

ISSN 0350-2899, 36(2011) br.2 p.126-131

History of medicine and health culture

Fight against variola major in renewed Serbia
(Borba protiv velikih boginja u obnovljenoj Srbiji)

Brana Dimitrijević
Akademija medicinskih nauka Srpskog lekarskog društva, Beograd


Dr. Emerich Lindenmeir, a long-standing head of the Medical Department within the Serbian Ministry of Domestic Affairs in his memoirs printed in Timisoara in 1874 divided important illnesses into 2 categories: domestic and imported; domestic ones are latent and would suddenly explode, while the imported came to Serbia from the outside. The most common illness that came from the outside was plague (pestis) in humans, while the animals were infected with cattle plague (pestis bovina). Among domestic illnesses, Variola Vera in humans was the most prevalent.
Fight against illnesses that came from the outside was done through prophylactic quarantine isolation (quarantine exam); treatment of variola was done through inoculation.
The law regarding compulsory, universal inoculation of the whole population was adopted in Serbia in 1839 during the rule of Prince Miloš, but prophylactic measures had been practiced even before the passage of this law.
Inoculation was done with cow pox. At that time there were very few doctors in Serbia. Most of them were foreigners. In 1838 it was reported that there were only 6-7 doctors who were employed by the state, three surgeons and two medically trained people, but without the medical diploma. It was their job to vaccinate the whole population of Serbia, the number of which at the time was 650,000.
People did not gladly accept to be vaccinated, except when the threat of epidemics was imminent. As a result, Pacek’s Law (according to Dr Carl Pacek) became more rigorous. These were regulations dating back to 1838 and they dealt with compulsory vaccination. For instance, a master of a shop was forbidden to employ an apprentice if he was not vaccinated; priests were not permitted to merry couples unless they were inoculated. Yet, there were not enough of doctors to do the job.
In 1852 there were only 11 graduated doctors, 8 surgeons and 2 medically trained personnel. The inoculation was done by "from hand to hand" method and that carried some dangers; then in 1886 Dr. Mihajlo Mika Marković introduced vaccination by readymade serum. It was only after this that a long expected goal was achieved, i.e. vaccination for the whole Serbian population. This was a pioneer undertaking that was done neither in the Ottoman Empire nor in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was through the exodus of refugees from Bosnia at the beginning of 20th century that variola made its way to Serbia; this happened at the beginning of World War I immediately after the Battle of Cer followed by the Battle on the River Drina. These events were recorded by the father of Serbian Military Surgery, Dr. Mihailo Mika Petrović. These individual cases did not cause the expansion of epidemics; they were taken care of by strict isolation of infected and by preventive vaccination.

Napomena: kompletan tekst rada na srpskom jeziku
Note: full text in Serbian
      Corresponding Address:
Brana Dimitrijević
Akademija medicinskih nauka Srpskog
lekarskog društva
Đorđa Vajferta 72, 11118 Beograd
Paper received: 28.03.2011
Paper aaccepted: 28.04.2011
Paper Internet issues: 21.10.2011
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Timočki medicinski glasnik, Zdravstveni centar Zaječar
Journal of Regional section of Serbian medical association in Zajecar
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