… Without time to get the response from Cornell, Al didn’t know whether the serum in his refrigerator had interferon. But he had a patient likely to die without treatment, and he needed to know whether this material worked.Late that afternoon, he injected the serum into his patient “sub-Q,” shorthand for subcutaneous, meaning the needle slid just under the skin to make its delivery.
“There was no reason to give interferon in any other way,” Al says. “It was just a matter of getting it into the body is all. As long as you got it in the body, it would absorb.” They put their patient back into its cage for the night. “I figured, ‘We’ll see,’” Al says.
When Chuck and Al returned in the morning, the dog bounced around happily.
“The dog was jumping up and down in the cage, and its nose was cleared up, and its eyes were cleared up,” Al says. “His fever was gone. I put him down on the floor and he ran around. We put some food out and he jumped into the food like he hadn’t eaten for three or five days, which he probably hadn’t. I’m looking at the dog and thinking, ‘Geez, this dog’s not sick.’”
After years of watching distemper dogs die, Al could not believe his eyes.
“We made a mistake,” he thought. “That couldn’t have possibly have been distemper.” Nothing he had learned in veterinary school, in his training and his experience would allow him to believe what he saw.
“I’m a veterinarian,” says Al, who at first sounded just like the skeptics who would later besiege him for his entire career and beyond. “I’m rational. You can’t cure viruses like that.” …