Smallpox Essay

735 words - 3 pages

Pandemics and epidemics are diseases that affect many people all over the world. They cause millions of deaths and leave many people sick. Most epidemics are contagious and spread very quickly. One kind of epidemic is the variola virus. Variola virus is most known by the name smallpox. it got it’s nickname from the small blisters that appear on the face and arms. Smallpox is believed to have originated in Egypt or Northeastern Africa about 10,000 years ago. It soon reached Asia during the middle ages and reached Europe in 700 A.D.In 18th Century Europe it killed about 400,000 people a year. In the 20th Century alone, it has killed about 300 million. This disease has also led to the downfall of the Aztec Empire and killed many royal figures from France, Russia and other countries.
Most people do not know but, there are four types of the smallpox virus, variola major,variola minor, hemorrhagic smallpox and malignant smallpox. Variola major kills 30% of those infected with the disease while variola minor only kills 1% of those who are infected. Hemorrhagic smallpox causes the organs to leak blood and malignant smallpox is lesions on the skin. Although there are several different types of smallpox they all have similar symptoms. the symptoms include high fever, chills, headache, severe back pain, vomiting and malaise. Malaise is a slight or general feeling of not being happy or healthy that many victims of smallpox experienced. These symptoms last for about three days and the victim feels better. Soon, a rash or the “smallpox” will appear. It starts on the face, moves to the forearms and then continues to affect the rest of the body. The rash if filled with fluid and pus which then breaks open, scabs over, then the scab falls off. . A person with smallpox is only contagious until the rash disappears. Smallpox can also cause blindness if blisters develop near the eyes. Smallpox most likely affected millions of people worldwide for thousands of years because it is easy to spread and get. Smallpox is an airborne disease and can spread by coughing, sneezing and bodily fluids. It can even be spread by sharing infected bedding and clothing.
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