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Small Pox History Essay

1792 words - 7 pages

Small Pox History

Smallpox has been believed to be a prominent killer for thousands of years. Before 900 AD smallpox and measles were easily interchangeable to many physicians. These two diseases possessed similar symptoms, such as fevers and rashes, making it very difficult to distinguish between them. It was not until the Persian physician, Rhazes Ar-Raz Abmiz, that measles and smallpox were able to be clinically distinguished in 900 AD. Much later in 1751, Thomas Sydenham found further differentiating characteristics between the two diseases(Aufderheide, 202). Through the years, with its many outbreaks in varying areas across the planet, smallpox claimed millions of victims. Many rulers and soldiers were killed by this incredibly infectious disease. To prevent and hopefully stop the increasing numbers of deaths due to smallpox, many physicians slaved away to invent and find a cure for this disease. The first effective method of prevention was called variolation. Variolation was later modified and improved with vaccinations(Hopkins, 15). Today wild smallpox is no longer a risk. The last natural case of smallpox was reported in Somalia in 1977. While the last reported death due to smallpox was reported to be a year later in the UK(McNeil, 165). Smallpox is not completely out of the picture. After the 2001 attacks with anthrax, a strong paranoia of smallpox being used as another possible mean of bioterrorism has arisen(Oldstone, 32).
Smallpox was once a major killer. In the 20th century more than 400 million deaths by smallpox were recorded. In 1967, the World Health Organization reported that 15 million people became infected that one
year(Hopkins, 16). After many soldiers, the disease claimed rulers, and regular civilians, physicians finally created an efficient vaccine for the disease. Edward Jenner made the first vaccine for smallpox using the virus that caused cowpox, a close relative of smallpox. With the development of the vaccine, laws requiring vaccination soon appeared in many countries(McNeil, 166). When deaths from the vaccination itself outnumbered the reported deaths from actual smallpox in 1970, many countries decided to discontinue the vaccination. Today smallpox has been eradicated from the planet; many are still worried that it will be used for bioterrorism as it was by the British army who attempted to infect representatives of the Delaware Indians with two infected blankets during the 1763 Pontiac’s Rebellion(Hopkins, 16).
Smallpox has been seen throughout history. In ancient records the Lesser Pox has been believed to refer to smallpox while the Greater Pox is syphilis. It has also been referred to as the petite verole(McNeil, 166). This human unique disease resembles both cowpox and monkeypox. Smallpox is caused by two virus variants. One is Variola minor, which is the lesser harmful variant. It is usually
referred to as alastrim. Its mortality rate is only 1% of its victims. On the other hand, its far more harmful...

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