Joseph Meister, 1st recipient of rabies vaccine.

Joseph Meister, 1st recipient of rabies vaccine.


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J. Meister. Joseph Meister (1876-1940) in his youth. From Alsace, in eastern France, he was the first person to receive Pasteur's rabies vaccine. In 1885 Meister, aged only nine, was badly mauled and bitten by a rabid dog. He was treated by Louis Pasteur with a vaccine which consisted of an 'attenuated' (non-lethal) strain of rabies. A series of injections of the vaccine during the incubation period of the wild virus gives an immunity to it. Meister survived and in later life became the caretaker of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France. When Nazi invaders in 1940 ordered him to open Pasteur's crypt, which lies within the Institute, Meister preferred to kill himself.

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