Topics: Smallpox, Vaccination, Edward Jenner Pages: 5 (1814 words) Published: May 18, 2013
The smallpox epidemic affected the economy, politics, and society of the thirteen English colonies in the eighteen-century. Smallpox also known as variola virus had a course of about one month leading to death or immunity and with strong remembrance of the pain. This highly contagious virus was transmitted through body fluids when in contact with an infected victim, and also through the clothing and the dried scabs of an infected person. The symptoms of an infected person showed after the eleventh day. These symptoms involved fever, headaches, backache, nausea, and malaise. Between the twelfth day through sixteenth day, the symptoms got worse, leading to macules, papules, vesicles and pustules. If during the tenth through the sixteenth day death didn’t occur, it was a sign of survival. During the twenty-fifth day scabs came in and the person was left with numerous scars, and some were blinded but had acquired immunity to smallpox for a lifetime. This epidemic did not discriminate peoples age, sex, race, religion, nor did it have any respect for social status, pregnancy or nutritional status - it affected everyone. This effect is described in the scholarly book of Elizabeth Fenn. The help control the spread of smallpox people used inoculation and quarantine. Two journal articles I have used are Henry R.Viets, "Some Features of the History of Medicine in Massachusetts during the Colonial Period (1620-1770)” and Cynthia, Scheider P., and Michael D. McDonald, “The King of terrors”. The primary source I have used is from William Quentin Maxwell, “A True state of the Small pox in Williamsburg.” In this paper, I will examine how smallpox changed the science in medicine as well as how it affected the society, economy and politics. Immunization was discovered in 1796 when an English physician, Edward Jenner, saw that milkmaids didn’t get infected from the cowpox virus. This discovery led Dr. Jenner to an experiment infecting a boy by the name of James Phipps with cowpox followed by variolation. The intentionally infection with cowpox was not as severe as the small pox, Dr. Jenner later inoculated the boy with smallpox, Dr. Jenner surprised when he found out that James wasn’t infected (Fenn 33). Vaccination exposed patients to the cowpox virus. Variolation and inoculation exposed people to the variola virus; although it was less serious than the smallpox disease, the process of suffering was something that had to be followed. Americans learned ways to control the spread of smallpox by using Inoculation and Quarantine to control the small pox in the troops. Furthermore, these two methods of inoculation and quarantine were highly controversial in some colonies, but it saved and changed the knowledge and the practice of medicine for the future. The controversy on inoculation was because individuals were fully capable of infecting others with the disease. The controversy was more prevalent in the English colonies where there were less smallpox outbreaks. Although in England the disease had an endemic root so because of it, inoculation was better accepted; in America smallpox was not endemic (Fenn 28). Americans learned quickly the two options of either inoculation or quarantine and practices it, taking their chances of either acquiring immunity or death. This action called inoculation was risky business because the person inoculated was fully capable to infect a non-immune person even harsher with smallpox; thus, causing death. People were forced to segregate due to government decree in order to control the spread of the epidemic. Quarantine was the isolation of a diseased and the non-diseased. This helped prevent the contact and thus keeping other people smallpox free. Inoculation was the act of intentionally infecting a person with variola. Although it was a milder version, it still had a considerable amount leading to death, and the person was fully capable of infecting others if they came...
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