The Journal Of Doctor Benjamin Rush: Smallpox Research During The Revolutionary War

851 words - 4 pages

Smallpox is a viral infection caused by Variola major. This infection is currently one of the most dreaded diseases, and is believed to be more dangerous than the enemy’s sword. The exposure is usually an infection of the respiratory tract. After exposure, early symptoms are: headaches, back aches, fever, vomiting, discomfort, and feeling out of sorts. These symptoms go away usually in two days, and the patient feels better. Then about two days later, the patient has a flustered face, and lesions on the mouth, throat, and nasal membranes. At 5 days past exposure, red rashes and bumps appear on the skin, bleeding through skin, and mucous membranes. If the patients bleeds through their eyes, ...view middle of the document...

Inoculation is done by taking the virus and deliberately giving to the patient wishing to become inoculated. Inoculation was not the best because patients who have been inoculated catch a mild form of this illness. If people who have been inoculated have been around people who do not have immunity, it is possible for them to catch it. Though inoculation could end the disease, it also had the possibility of starting an epidemic. Inoculation mortality rate was lower than “natural immunity” mortality rate. George Washington decided against it because of this reason, but soldiers could do it in secrecy. The epidemic was intensified by soldiers inoculating themselves. Also, two percent of Washington’s soldiers would die because they developed a more severe form of the disease. If the British attacked during an inoculation campaign, it could be the end of the war. Isolation was the only approved way to prevent the spread of the disease, since all inoculations were halted by Washington. Washington had special isolation hospitals set-up to keep his healthy army safe. Anyone caught giving inoculations would be thrown in jail. Anyone suspected of being inoculated would be sent to an isolation hospital until they were fit to work again. Washington set-up a systems so any new recruits would be inoculated immediately, while they were being sized for their uniform and weapons. After they were fit, they would go directly to battle, and had already gained immunity.
Two epidemics occurred in this new nation, one in...

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