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1917-1918 menningitis vaccine testing at Fort Riley encountered unusual side effects in several men already sick with an unknown respiratory illness

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  • Emily
    Whole cell vaccination for meningococcus: Lessons from an idea whose time has gone
    DOI: 10.4161/hv.6.4.11055 Joseph E. Labrie & Paul B. Keiser* pages 360-365
    • Published online: 01 Apr 2010


    Endotoxin in vaccines has long been recognized as a cause of adverse events and is generally regarded as a contaminant. However there are now a number of vaccine candidates that contain endotoxin as either antigen or adjuvant, particularly vaccines for Neisseria meningitidis based on native outer membrane vesicles (NOMV). Vaccines containing meningococcal endotoxin are not new. From 1907 to 1939 approximately 400,000 individuals were immunized with whole cell vaccines against meningococcus. We reviewed reports of meningococcal vaccinations from this period to characterize the adverse events to draw a baseline for evaluating meningococcal NOMV vaccines. The majority of these investigators conclude that whole cell vaccination was well tolerated with an adverse event profile comparable to other whole cell vaccines for Gram negative pathogens. There is insufficient data to draw conclusions on the duration of protection, if any, induced by whole cell meningococcal vaccines.

    Gates 15 1918 Fort Riley... soldiers 5,191 not stated three stock strains from The Rockefeller Institute
    In one study a few individuals experienced
    loose bowels and diarrhea.15
    And that was the Fort Riley study cited in the first post - so that side effect was first encountered during the trial at Fort Riley and then never seen again again during the whole cell trials that were conducted until 1939.

    Diarrhea was also a symptom associated with the pandemic flu.

    From the Gates article cited in the first post:

    A survey of the reports of the regimental surgeons and of the observations
    in the preliminary series shows that headache was the most
    frequent symptom following injection, and accompanied most of the
    other symptoms encountered. Sometimes the reaction was initiated
    by a chill or chilly sensation, and a number of men complained of
    fever or feverish sensations during the following night. Next in frequency
    came nausea (occasionally vomiting), dizziness, and general
    "aches and pains" in the joints and muscles, which in a few instances
    were especially localized in the neck or lumbar region, causing stiff
    neck or stiff back. A few injections were followed by diarrhea. The
    reactions, therefore, occasionally simulated the onset of epidemic
    meningitis and several vaccinated men were sent as suspects to the
    Base Hospital for diagnosis
    The 1918 pandemic flu was was said to be initially misdiagnosed as meningitis...maybe Gates was seeing early pandemic flu in the vaccinees, rather than side effects of the vaccine, especially since the unique diarrhea was seen in men already sick before they were vaccinated.

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  • 1917-1918 menningitis vaccine testing at Fort Riley encountered unusual side effects in several men already sick with an unknown respiratory illness
    First Lieutenant, Medical Corps, U. S. Army.
    (From the Base Hospital, Fort Riley, Kansas, and The Rockefeller Institute ./or
    Medical Research, New York.)
    PLATES 47 AND 48.
    (Received for publication, July 20, 1918.)
    Following an outbreak of epidemic meningitis at Camp Funston,
    Kansas, in October and November, 1917, a series of antimeningitis
    vaccinations was undertaken on volunteer subjects from the camp.
    Major E. H. Schorer, Chief of the Laboratory Section at the adjacent
    Base Hospital at Fort Riley, offered every facility at his command
    and cooperated in the laboratory work connected with the vaccinations.
    In the camp, under the direction of the Division Surgeon,
    Lieutenant Colonel J. L. Shepard, a preliminary series of vaccinations
    on a relatively small number of volunteers served to determine the
    appropriate doses and the resultant local and general reactions. Following
    this series, the vaccine was offered by the Division Surgeon to
    the camp at large, and "given by the regimental surgeons to all who
    wished to take it.


    Reactions.--After the first injections had been given, the opinion
    was almost universal in the camp that the vaccine caused less general
    and local reaction than the typhoid prophylactic. In very few regiments
    was a man excused from duty the following day on account
    of the reaction from the vaccination. The general feeling was that the
    second dose caused less reaction than the first, but there were a few
    men in almost every organization who had reactions of moderate
    severity, sometimes being confined to bed for the day with headache,
    joint pains, and nausea. Several cases of looseness of the bowels or
    transient diarrhea were noted. This symptom had not been encountered
    before. Careful inquiry in individual cases often elicited
    the information that men who complained of the effects of vaccination
    were suffering from mild coryza, bronchitis, etc., at the time
    of injection.
    Last edited by Emily; October 9, 2015, 01:38 AM. Reason: Fixed article link.