Smallpox is a dire, highly contagious, and often lethal disease that is caused by the variola virus that can be spread by air or by direct contact through people or clothing that has been contaminated by the pus or scabs. Smallpox has been a problem for many countries throughout the world because of the serious epidemics it has caused. An attempt was made to completely obliterate the disease and in 1979 the World Health Association (WHO) announced that smallpox had been eradicated from the world. The WHO monitored the disease for another year to make sure that there were truly no more outbreaks and in 1980 it was official that smallpox had been wiped from existence. Despite the virus’s global obliteration, there are still samples of the virus in two laboratories in the United States and if those get into the wrong hands they could be a means of biological warfare.
The origin of the smallpox virus is unknown, but there is a speculation that it may have arisen from one of the other pox viruses or one of the wild or tamed animals in Asia or Africa. From there, it spread to other countries and territories through warfare, conquest, and trading. Smallpox has caused huge epidemics that resulted in massive death tolls around the world. It is an ancient disease, and there are traces of the disease all the way back to Pharaoh Ramses V of the Eighteenth Egyptian Dynasty. There is also historical evidence that says people tried vaccinating against smallpox in the sixth century when it spread from China to Japan. Scientists tried doing this by scratching a small amount of the pus from a person infected with smallpox into a person who had never come in contact with the disease. Nine times out of ten the person obtained full on smallpox; even though he was only exposed to the tiniest amount of the virus. This was just a means of the disease spreading even more and making the epidemic even worse. In the tenth century in China, India, and America it was recorded that people who survived the smallpox virus could never get it again in their lifetime. These makeshift vaccinations were outlawed in colonial times when smallpox was a huge epidemic because of the risk of infecting more people that accompanied them. One of the major epidemics for smallpox occurred around colonial time in the 1600’s and the 1800’s. It affected the Native American tribes in North America and was brought over by the English. The English already had an immune system to fend off the disease but the Natives had never been exposed to any of the diseases so they proved to be deadly. Once one of the natives was infected, he would spread that to his entire tribe because smallpox was so infectious. Smallpox is the one main reason that the majority of the Native Americans are wiped out today. There is no accurate number to show how many natives died from the smallpox disease but the government estimated that it killed approximately 1 to 120 million natives. "The Global Eradication of Smallpox." Science and Its Times. Ed. Neil Schlager and Josh Lauer. Vol. 7. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Science In Context. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.
Smallpox was responsible for more than 400,000 deaths per year in the eighteenth century in Europe. It was also responsible for approximately 300-500 million deaths in the 20th century. In 1967 the WHO estimated that 15 million people contracted the disease and 2 million died from it. There are two clinical forms of smallpox. The first is variola major which is the most severe form of smallpox which gives a more extensive rash and a higher fever. There are four subcategories of variola major. The first of these is ordinary smallpox. This is the most common form of smallpox and accounts for 90% of smallpox cases. The second form is modified smallpox which only occurs in people who have been previously vaccinated. The third form of smallpox is flat smallpox. This is a very deadly malignant form of smallpox where lesions appear on the skin but do not break the...
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