Mortality and morbidity among military personnel and civilians during the 1930s and World War II from transmission of hepatitis during yellow fever vaccination: systematic review.
Am J Public Health. 2013 Mar ;103(3):e16-29. Epub 2013 Jan 17. PMID: 23327242
Roger E Thomas
During World War II, nearly all US and Allied troops received yellow fever vaccine. Until May 1942, it was both grown and suspended in human serum. In April 1942, major epidemics of hepatitis occurred in US and Allied troops who had received yellow fever vaccine. A rapid and thorough investigation by the US surgeon general followed, and a directive was issued discontinuing the use of human serum in vaccine production. The large number of cases of hepatitis caused by the administration of this vaccine could have been avoided. Had authorities undertaken a thorough review of the literature, they would have discovered published reports, as early as 1885, of postvaccination epidemics of hepatitis in both men and horses. It would take 4 additional decades of experiments and epidemiological research before viruses of hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E were identified, their modes of transmission understood, and their genomes sequenced.