The history of smallpox goes back for thousands of years. It is thought to have appeared as much as 10,000 years ago and since then, it has claimed the lives of millions of people, many of whom have been famous figures in history. After a vaccine was discovered in 1796, countries throughout the world began the fight to eradicate the disease. This fight was won in 1980 as a result of the international effort headed by the World Health Organization. Today, smallpox is no longer a threat in nature but the virus is still stored in labs, from which a biological weapon could be made.
Mass preventative inoculations are a relatively new concept in the course of human history. Even though “the practice of variolation was used to prevent serious smallpox infection in China and India sometime about A.D. 1000,” mass preventative inoculations were extremely difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish (Plotkin 2). By 1796, this difficult began to diminish with the work of Edward Jenner. Edward Jenner is famous for his development of the smallpox vaccination, and after further advancements were made, “vaccination against smallpox soon became compulsory in Europe” by the early 1800s (Plotnik 2). Less than two centuries later, “an independent global commission certified that smallpox had been eradicated from the world” (Plotnik 4). Complete eradication of the illness is the ultimate goal of mass preventative inoculations, which explains why additional vaccinations were developed and used en masse, preventing illnesses that previously killed afflicted individuals upon contraction.
Although some claim that other individuals may have experimented with smallpox vaccines, Edward Jenner was the first individual to begin verifiable smallpox vaccine research (Riedel 25). In 1796, Jenner conducted the experiment that, according to Stern, Markel, and Howard, "laid the foundation for modern vaccinology." After noticing a correlation between milkmaids that were infected with cowpox and immunity to smallpox, Jenner hypothesized that it might be possible to transfer that immunity to another individual. In his first experiment, Jenner took pus from a milkmaid infected with cowpox, and injected it directly into the skin of James Phipps, a healthy eight-year old boy. Later, Jenner revaccinated Phipps two more times without Phipps ever developing a reaction (Stern, Markel, and Howard). In 1840, variolation was deemed unsafe, and its use was banned, and by 1853, vaccination was established as mandatory for infants under four months of age. After smallpox vaccination became widespread, when the smallpox epidemic of 1870-1873 hit London, the mortality rate dropped from "400-500 per 100,000 before vaccination" to "148 per 100,000 population after vaccination" (Borysiewicz 513). However, even in 1967, when the World Health Organization (WHO) began extensive vaccination, smallpox was still causing almost 15 million people to become infected annually (Stein 513). Due to the massive efforts of WHO, smallpox was eradicated in 1977, and in 1980, WHO stated, "The world and all its people have won freedom from smallpox, which was the most devastating disease sweeping in epidemic form through many countries since earliest times, leaving death, blindness, and disfigurement in its wake" (Riedel
First, a brief knowledge of important dates in the history of vaccines, and current statistics on vaccination is crucial to one’s position in the Vaccination Debate. On May 14, 1796, Edward Jenner discovered the smallpox vaccine when he inoculated a young boy with pus from a cowpox blister of an infected woman. Then in 1800, a man
Vaccinations have been a major and important part of human history since the late 18th century. Edward Jenner, often considered the founder of Vaccinology and the father of Immunology is the main pioneer of Vaccines. Edward Jenner inserted a cowpox sample into an incision of an 8 year old boy’s arm, this seemingly unorthodox and intrusive process was actually a stroke of genius was not an act of impulsive decision making but rather, a premeditated study of the country folk that he would observe. Jenner realized that the country folk would never contract smallpox after being exposed to the mild disease of cowpox they would contract from being in close proximity to the farm animal. This experiment was incredibly revolutionary for it’s time due to the fact that smallpox was increasingly becoming an epidemic all throughout Europe. Exposing people with a comparatively mild disease similar to smallpox, cowpox, increased immune response if smallpox was ever contracted. This experiment
...in tact by the 1900 34% of all children had been vaccinated. Britain soon discontinued the idea of the vaccination because there became less people who got infected with smallpox. It was a difficult process to take on the various act of vaccination because the increase of health measure to help control smallpox. By the 20th century a milder smallpox, called variola minor had enter in Britain but only causing about 1% of deaths. In 1973 there was said to be an out break from the laboratory killing two people. Soon the World Health Organization mount a campaign in 1967 when there was about 10-15 million cases yearly and to eradicate smallpox globally (Baxby, 1999). Smallpox was a way to be eliminated from the world and people who have been vaccinated and immune to the disease. The strategy to this method had eradicated smallpox causing the disease to be kept away.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and the anthrax threats, people became worried that smallpox could be used for bioterrorism, since at least half of the people in the U.S. have not been vaccinated, and those who have, were vaccinated more than 30 years ago. Luckily, the smallpox vaccine works if it is given within 4 days of being exposed to it. So, the government came up with a plan to make and keep enough vaccine for every American. If there is a terrorist attack, the people who are exposed will be vaccinated. The vaccine causes problems, like allergies, in some people so it has been decided that it will only be used if needed.
Variola rex (Smallpox) Smallpox is a virus that was first founded in ancient times. The virus?s proper name is Variola rex, and it has various different forms as well as various symptoms. Among these forms are typical smallpox, hemorrhagic smallpox, and malignant smallpox, all of which usually always cause death in their victims. Some of the typical symptoms of smallpox include red vesicles and pustules all over, bleeding from all orifices of the body, swelling in the face, throat, and eyes, difficulty eating and swallowing, delirium, malaise, deterioration of the bone marrow, lymph nodes and mucus membranes of the body, and a multitude of other secondary symptoms. Smallpox is typically diagnosed by ruling out the possibility of other viruses, which manifest themselves initially in a similar way, such as measles, and chicken pox.
Ever since the first vaccine for smallpox was invented over 200 years ago, there has been plenty of controversy over children receiving vaccinations (Smith & Bouck, 2009). It seems to be a delicate balance between personal liberty and public health. Every parent is concerned for their child’s health and todays parents want more information. To vaccinate or not to vaccinate should be an informed choice and not one made from fear (Glanz, Kraus, & Daley, 2014). Edward Jenner invented the first vaccine for smallpox in 1796 which, according to the World Health Organization (2015), eradicated the disease worldwide by 1980. A vaccine is “a product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease” (CDC, 2014, para.
The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston is an intriguing book that discusses the anthrax terrorist attacks after 9/11 and how smallpox might become a future bioterrorist threat to the world. The book provides a brief history of the smallpox disease including details of an outbreak in Germany in 1970. The disease was eradicated in 1979 due to the World Health Organization’s aggressive vaccine program. After the virus was no longer a treat the World Health Organization discontinued recommending the smallpox vaccination. In conjunction, inventory of the vaccine was decreased to save money. The virus was locked up in two labs, one in the United States and one in Russia. However, some feel the smallpox virus exists elsewhere. Dr. Peter Jahrling and a team of scientists at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Maryland became concerned terrorists had access to the smallpox virus and planed to alter the strain to become more resistant. These doctors conducted smallpox experiments to discover more effective vaccines in case the virus were released. Preparedness for a major epidemic is discussed as well as the ease with which smallpox can be bioengineered.