Juan Planelles Ripoll, the discoverer of the dysentery vaccine

Juan Planelles Ripoll, the discoverer of the dysentery vaccine

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Although at first it seems just a simple - but annoying - diarrhea, dysentery it can reach an intensity such that it ends the lives of its patients. Until the 20th century, had a death record worthy of the deadliest diseases.

It had claimed - among many others - the lives of the British kings Juan sin Tierra and Enrique V, the mongolian emperor Akbar the Great and the corsair Francis Drake. Also, decimated the Grande Armée with which Napoleon attempted to invade Russia and the American troops who engaged each other in the Civil War.

The man who discovered the vaccine that allowed to fight this dangerous disease, Juan Planelles Ripoll, was born in Jerez de la Frontera a April 8, 1900. Following the family tradition, he studied medicine in Madrid.

During the thirties he collaborated with Gregorio Marañón and introduced in Spain the behaviorist theories of Pavlov. He combined his professional work with his political commitment, since he became part of the Central Committee of the PCE, which he joined due to his friendship with La Pasionaria.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, he was in charge of organizing health in Madrid and, in May 1937, he was appointed Undersecretary of Public Health for the entire Republican area. But the defeat of the rebels made him have to go into exile to the USSR, where he continued to work as a teacher.

It was there that he discovered the dysentery vaccine, which he tested in the Spanish Children's Homes. Their findings would be reflected in the book Side Effects of Antibiotic Treatment of Infections Caused by Bacteria

Finally, in 1970 - more than 40 years after his departure - he was able to return to Spain, to give several talks and to see his elderly mother, who had remained in Malaga.

Two years later, in 1972, he would die in Abkhazia due to a stroke.

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