Smallpox Vaccination For Critical Public Service Workers

1334 words - 5 pages

Note: Includes overview and history of the disease. Citations included, but not in proper form.Smallpox vaccination for critical public service workersThere has been much publicity about the threat of bioterrorist attacks in the UnitedStates. Usually, the agent cited as the most likely to be used is the smallpox virus. Thefederal government has recommended that only certain public health and health careworkers be vaccinated. If a major outbreak of smallpox were to occur however, thecountry would need to rely on more than just public health and health care workers.Instead, members of all critical areas of public service, such as police officers andfire/rescue personnel would be needed and so, they too, should be vaccinated.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published a list of diseasesthat are of the highest concern as bioterrorism agents. Each agent has one or more ofthe following characteristics: it can be easily spread from person to person, it can causehigh mortalityrate, it can cause public panic and fear, or it can require special actionfor public health preparedness. Topping this list of these possible biological threats isthe smallpox virus.Humans have faced the threat of smallpox for thousands of years. According tohistorians, smallpox first developed as a disease among people in ancient Egypt,sometime before 1500 B.C. From there it most likely traveled eastward along the traderoutes to Persia and India. By A.D. 580-581, a fatal disease closely resembling smallpoxwas sweeping across northern Italy and southern France. The spread of smallpoxcontinued and an epidemic of the disease swept through western Europe during the1300s. The virus, unimpeded, was rampant in Europe during the 18th century andapproximately 60 million people died as a result. When Europeans began theirexplorations in the New World, smallpox traveled with them. The disease was new inthe Americas, and the native inhabitants, having no immunity, were decimated.An outbreak in New York City in 1947 was smallpox's first major strike against theUnited States in the 20th century. Quick thinking city officials ordered the entirepopulation of the city to be vaccinated, and a potentially catastrophic epidemic wasprevented. The threat of a deadly epidemic, however, spurred the scientific communityto action. Between 1967 and 1977 a global vaccination campaign involving a staff of150,000 people and led by the World Health Organization accomplished the extirpationof the disease. In 1980 smallpox was officially declared eradicated and all vaccinationprograms were stopped. While the virus was eradicated in the world population, it wasnot completely destroyed. Many countries kept the smallpox virus alive in laboratoriesfor research purposes.In 1976, the World Health Organization requested that 75 labs in several countriesthat retained stocks of smallpox virus for research destroy or transfer the stocks toofficial repositories in United States and Soviet Union. South...

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