Wellcome Image of the Month: Lung Tonic
It is that time of year again when coughs and colds are rife and almost everyone seems to be harbouring a sniffle of some sort.
Part of Wellcome Library’s Ephemera Collection, this showcard advertised lung tonic in the early 1900s and was thought to have been published by the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain in 1918. The tonic was priced at one shilling and threepence, as well as two shillings. A two shilling coin also known as a “florin” or “two bob bit” was converted to the new ten pence coin for decimalisation in 1971.
The need for some sort of “lung tonic” is still just as relevant today with outbreaks of influenza prevalent every year. December marks the beginning of the peak period for seasonal influenza infection in the Northern hemisphere. New strains of influenza virus emerge each year due to spontaneous changes in the protein antigens found on their surface. When these antigens change substantially, widespread infection can occur as immunity in the population has not yet been acquired. This resulted in the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic. Other influenza pandemics include Hong Kong Flu (1968), Asian Flu (1957) and Spanish Flu (1918).
We’ve also seen a sudden increase in the number of cases of whooping cough in England and Wales during 2012. This year, 7728 laboratory confirmed cases have been reported in England and Wales up to the end of October, an increase of approximately seven times the number of cases in 2011. Whooping cough is caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella parapertussis and can affect any age. Vaccinations are currently being offered to pregnant women to protect their babies once born. If left unvaccinated, newborns will not develop immunity against this disease in the first few months of life as primary immunisation is not started until 2 months of age.
Finally, to celebrate the festive season, the final post of 2012 is St Stephen’s Review Presentation Cartoon “Christmas Brings Union”. Created by Tom Merry, this was originally published on 24 December 1887.
Wellcome Images wishes you all a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year!
References and further information
Image credits: Wellcome Library, London
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