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Overview Of Smallpox Essay

1281 words - 5 pages

One of the world’s most dreaded plagues for centuries, smallpox is now eradicated. Vaccination programs were pushed worldwide by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the disease was eliminated from the world. This push resulted in the last naturally occurring case in the world being almost 40 years ago. Once eradicated the once routine or mandatory vaccinations were stopped for the general public and it was deemed no longer necessary to prevent the disease. Although currently eradicated worldwide, two medical laboratory stockpiles still remain in Russia and the United States. With these stockpiles in existence the possibility of bio terrorism emerges and fear of these stockpiles getting into the wrong hands and being weaponized for use against the public is rising. The smallpox disease is highly contagious and easily communicable and currently there is no cure for this disease. If reintroduced, an epidemic would be devastating worldwide.

From as early as we know epidemics and plagues have drastically affected mankind all over the world. With no regard to race, creed, religion, gender, social class or economic status, they have ravaged and devastated the human race across all continents. Small Pox, one these voracious and merciless diseases, has had its hand in this devastation. The highly contagious disease is responsible for the death of hundreds of millions of people over thousands of years with three hundred million of those deaths, coming from the 20th century alone (Carrell, 2004).
As early as AD 100, in Rome smallpox ravaged for 15 years, causing two thousand deaths daily. The disease spread throughout Europe, Asia and Northern Africa from the 12th through the 15th century. Colonists and explorers from England, France and Spain began to travel the world and took with them the smallpox disease to the newly discovered American continent. The spread of smallpox to the native populations allowed an advantage in conquering and destruction by the colonists.
In the war of 1763 between England and France for control of North America, smallpox was used to defeat the Native American population. British soldiers intentionally delivered blankets infected with smallpox scabs and pustules to the population they needed to defeat. The highly susceptible population was easily defeated as there were extensive numbers of Native American deaths. This use of smallpox gives reason as to why smallpox is considered the first germ warfare agent (Sherman, 2007).
Smallpox comes from variola major virus. It is transmitted through inhalation by droplet infection (contact with contagious body fluids). Individuals can also become infected through direct contact with contaminated clothing or bedding. There are two types of smallpox. The Variola virus; major and minor. The more deadly form of the virus, Variola major, generally killed up to twenty five percent of the people infected and accounted for over ninety percent of all cases...

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