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History and Eradication of Smallpox

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History and Eradication of Smallpox

The smallpox virus has affected the human species for centuries. It has been recorded as early as 1350 BC in ancient Egypt.The smallpox disease is caused by the Variola virus which only inhabits the human organism. There are two forms of the disease major and minor. The major has a mortality rate of 20-40% of untreated individuals. Though major and minor eventually run the same course and the outcome is the same, the major has symptoms that are distinct from the minor form, including hemorrhaging both internally and externally. Early treatment of the disease was variolation, and was the only method of treatment until the vaccine was discovered by Edward Jenner. The World Health Organization (WHO) eradicated smallpox in 1979. There is still no effective treatment for the disease after contraction.

The speckled monster, the killer of both kings and peasants, once considered the most terrible minister of death; smallpox had ravaged the world for centuries. The virus emerged from an unknown source, however there is belief that it originated in Africa and then eventually spread to India and China. The first documented case of smallpox was dated in 1350 BC during the Egyptian-Hittite war.(Emedmag,2002) The course of the pandemic turned towards Europe in the 5th to 7th century and begun it destruction in major European cities in the 18th century. Classified as a pandemic during the 18th century, smallpox was located on almost the entire world save Australia and a few isolated islands.

Smallpox did not only impact medical history, but also was a great influence in politics as well. Smallpox was known as the killer of peasants and kings, showing no biasness in its selection of victims. Skin lesions ...

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...n stopped for almost 15 years. If terrorists were to use the Variola virus, the world would be virtually at the mercy of the smallpox disease.

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References:

Barquet, N. Smallpox: The Triumph over the Most Terrible of the Ministers of Death. Volume 127, Issue 8, Pages 635-642.

Brannon, H. 2005. History of Smallpox: The Rise and Fall of a Disease. About Dermatology. July 26,2005 http://dermatology.about.com/cs/smallpox/a/smallpoxhx.htm

Brilliant, L. B. 1985. The Management of Smallpox Eradication in India. Ann

Arbor, MI:University of Michigan Press.

Fenner, F., D. A. Henderson, I. Arita, Z. Jezek, & I. D. Ladnyi. 1988. Smallpox and Its Eradication. Geneva: World Health Organization.

Hopkins, J. W. 1989. The Eradication of Smallpox: Organizational Learning and Innovation in International Health. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
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