Originally Posted by R. Evans
I was wondering that when penicillin was first used and then began to be widely used for the armed forces during WW2 whether or not any soldiers had allergic reactions to it and if the doctors knew that was the problem at first. I know some people are so allergic to it that it can kill them(my father, sister and brother to name 3), so did the doctors at the time know of this? Or did that come after a few soldiers had died from reaction to it?
The odd thing about allergies: It's not the allergen (i.e. Penicillin) that typically kills people.
Most often it is your own-body's reaction that kills you.
( I say 'most' because we are always finding out new stuff in the medical world.)
Most people are exposed to the allergen -> develop the wrong anti-body -> be exposed to the allergen again -> and then the body's auto-immune response starts spitting out wrong anti-body to fight off that allergen. -> Only now, it's not working and your body starts to try and fight it off in different ways (dumping your blood-pressure/filling your lungs with secretions/etc).
There's a lot more technical stuff to it, but that's the basic breakdown of how a lot of allergies work. And why the first inoculation might not have been so bad for the typical WW II Joe whom had probably not had regular vaccinations like we do with almost all kids these days.
I think the people with the most data about this subject (and the least likely to give you the data) -> Pfizer
That war made them.