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Two glass ampoules of cholera serum, Paris, France, 1916

The serum contains antibodies from an animal infected with cholera and was used to immunise people against the disease. Cholera is a water-borne disease affecting the small intestine and causing diarrhoea and vomiting. The name of the Laboratoire de Sérothérapie de l'Armée, which made this serum, translates as the “Army Laboratory for Serotherapy”. Serotherapy is the treatment of infectious disease by injection of immune serum. This was made for the French Army during the First World War, and produced in 1916. It was considered important to immunise soldiers against cholera as it was important to keep a fighting force fit and healthy. Prevention of disease aimed to ensure that soldiers were at peak physical condition to fight.

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Glossary: immune serum

Immune serum, blood serum from an immunised animal used for passive immunisation, an antiserum, antitoxin or antivenin.

Glossary: ampoule

A sealed glass or plastic capsule containing one dose of a drug in the form of a sterile solution for injection.

Glossary: immunisation

A process that improves a organism's ability to resist or overcome infection.

Glossary: cholera

A severe infection of the small intestine commonly contracted through eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea, leading to dehydration, which can be fatal.

Glossary: antibody

Molecules produced by the body which attach themselves to the micro-organisms that cause disease and destroy them.