Cause and Effects of Smallpox

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Cause and Effects of Smallpox

Smallpox is caused by the variola virus that emerged in human populations thousands of years ago. Smallpox is a specific, infectious, and highly contagious febrile disease known only to be transmitted by humans. It is caused by a virus from air currents which are eventually passed on from person to person. Smallpox varies from a mild form without skin manifestations to a highly fatal hemorrhagic form. Edward Jenner, an English physician, discovered a means of preventing smallpox through vaccination. Gradually mass vaccination programs were introduced in many parts of the world. Smallpox was the first disease conquered by human beings and was eradicated by vaccination. The last known cases of naturally occurring smallpox were isolated in 1977 in Somalia. Smallpox had been one of the world’s most feared diseases which killed hundreds of millions of people and scarred and blinded millions more.

Smallpox, which is caused by variola virus, is a severe, often fatal, highly contagious disease. The name smallpox is derived from the Latin word for “spotted” and refers to the raised bumps that appear on the face and body of an infected person. It is characterized by high fever and distinctive skin rash that frequently leaves permanent deep-pitted scars. Smallpox varies in severity from a mild, difficult-to-recognize form without skin manifestations to a highly fatal hemorrhagic form. From the 15th century through the 18th records of the disease in Europe show its catastrophic effect on the lives of people and the political and economic history of nations. Even survivors were frequently disfigured for life. (Henderson, 1947)

Smallpox was caused by a virus that spread from person to person through the air. I...

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...revention. However, in the aftermath of the events of September and October, 2001, there is heightened concern that the variola virus might be used as an agent of bioterrorism. For this reason, the U.S. government is taking precautions for dealing with a smallpox outbreak. (CDC, 2005).

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Henderson. D. 1947. World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago, IL: Scott Fetzer.

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