AskDefine | Define inoculate

Dictionary Definition

inoculate

Verb

1 introduce an idea or attitude into the mind of; "My teachers inoculated me with their beliefs"
2 introduce a micro-organism into
3 perform vaccinations or produce immunity in by inoculation; "We vaccinate against scarlet fever"; "The nurse vaccinated the children in the school" [syn: immunize, immunise, vaccinate]
4 insert a bud for propagation
5 impregnate with the virus or germ of a disease in order to render immune

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Verb

  1. In the context of "transitive|immunology": To introduce an antigenic substance or vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific disease.
  2. In the context of "transitive|by extension": To safeguard or protect something as if by inoculation.

Related terms

Italian

Verb

  1. Form of Second-person plural present tense, inoculare
  2. Form of Second-person plural imperative, inoculare#Italian|inoculare

Extensive Definition

Inoculation is the placement of something to where it will grow or reproduce, and is most commonly used in respect of the introduction of a serum, vaccine, or antigenic substance into the body of a human or animal, especially to produce or boost immunity to a specific disease; but also can be used to refer to the communication of a disease to a living organism by transferring its causative agent into the organism, to implant microorganisms or infectious material into a culture medium such as a brewers vat or a petri dish, to safeguard as if by inoculation, to introduce an idea or attitude into someone's mind, any placement of microorganisms or viruses at a site where infection is possible such as to increase soybeans' nitrogen fixation one can treat soybeans at planting with Rhizobium japonicum inoculant. The verb "to inoculate" is from Middle English "inoculaten", which meant "to graft a scion (a scion is a plant part to be grafted onto another plant); which in turn is from Latin "inoculare", past participle "inoculat-".
This article covers variolation, inoculation as a method of purposefully infecting a person with smallpox (Variola) in a controlled manner so as to minimise the severity of the infection and also to induce immunity against further infection. See vaccination for post-variolation methods of safeguarding as if by inoculation by administering weakened or dead pathogens to a healthy person or animal with the intent of conferring immunity against a targeted form of a related disease agent.
Today the terms inoculation, vaccination and immunisation are used more or less interchangeably and popularly refer to the process of artificial induction of immunity against various infectious diseases. The microorganism used in an inoculation is called the inoculant or inoculum.

Origins

The earliest use of inoculation was from the Chinese. It is recorded that the Chinese inoculated their patients by making them snort the powdered scabs of smallpox victims. Another method of their inoculation was by scratching the powder into their skin.http://www.gilbertling.org/lp5.htmhttp://americanhistory.si.edu/polio/virusvaccine/history.htm

Importation to the West

The practice was introduced to the west by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (May 26, 1689-August 21, 1762). Lady Montagu's husband, Edward Wortley Montagu, served as the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1716 to 1717. She witnessed inoculation in Constantinople, and was greatly impressed: she had lost a brother to smallpox and bore facial scars from the disease herself. In March 1718 she had the embassy surgeon, Charles Maitland, inoculate her five-year-old son. In 1721, after returning to England, she had her four-year-old daughter inoculated. She invited friends to see her daughter, including Sir Hans Sloane, the King's physician. Sufficient interest arose that Maitland gained permission to test inoculation at Newgate prison in exchange for their freedom on six prisoners due to be hanged, an experiment which was witnessed by a number of notable doctors. All survived, and in 1722 the Prince of Wales' daughters received inoculations.
The practice of inoculation slowly spread amongst the royal families of Europe, usually followed by more general adoption amongst the people.
The practice is documented in America as early as 1721, when Zabdiel Boylston, at the urging of Cotton Mather, successfully inoculated two slaves and his own son. Mather, a prominent Boston minister, had heard a description of the African practice of inoculation from his Sudanese slave, Onesimus, in 1706, but had been previously unable to convince local physicians to attempt the procedure. Following this initial success, Boylston began performing inoculations throughout Boston, despite much controversy and at least one attempt upon his life. The effectiveness of the procedure was proven when, of the nearly three hundred people Boylston inoculated during the outbreak, only six died, whereas the mortality rate among those who contracted the disease naturally was one in six.
In France considerable opposition arose to the introduction of inoculation. Voltaire, in his Lettres Philosophiques, wrote a criticism of his countrymen for being opposed to inoculation and having so little regard for the welfare of their children, concluding that "had inoculation been practised in France it would have saved the lives of thousands.".
Inoculation grew in popularity in Europe through the 18th century. Given the high prevalence and often severe consequences of smallpox in Europe in the 18th century (according to Voltaire, there was a 60% incidence of first infection, a 20% mortality rate, and a 20% incidence of severe scarring), many parents felt that the benefits of inoculation outweighted the risks and so inoculated their children.

Mechanism

Two forms of the disease of Smallpox were recognised, now known to be due to two strains of the Variola virus. Those contracting Variola Minor had a greatly reduced risk of death — 1-2% — compared to those contracting Variola Major with 20% mortality. Infection via inhaled viral particles in droplets spread the infection more widely than the deliberate infection through a small skin wound. The smaller, localised infection is adequate to stimulate the immune system to produce specific immunity to the virus, while requiring more generations of the virus to reach levels of infection likely to kill the patient. The rising immunity terminates the infection. So the twofold effect is to ensure the less fatal form of the disease is the one caught, and to give the immune system the best start possible in combating it.

References

inoculate in French: variolisation
inoculate in Japanese: 接種
inoculate in Norwegian: Inokulasjon
inoculate in Serbian: Инокулација
inoculate in Finnish: Inokulaatio
inoculate in Chinese: 注射疫苗

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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