Muslim Contribution to Discovery of Smallpox

Topics: Infectious disease, Smallpox, Vaccine Pages: 1 (362 words) Published: March 20, 2007
A significant contribution by the Muslim community was the discovery and investigation of the disease small pox. Small pox is a highly contagious disease characterized by a fever and small spots which leave permanently disfiguring scars in the form of pits. If it is not treated immediately it results in death, even a patient does survive the disease the skin is permanently disfigured. The disease was first identified in 1122 BC in Egypt and quickly spread through out the eastern world and eventually, through colonization, spread to all parts of the world. Small pox still greatly effects the world today. In the 20th century alone, small pox was responsible for an estimated 300-500 million deaths. It was not until the end of the ninth century that this disease was first studied. Al-Razi, an Arab physician born in Iran was the first known person to ever study the disease. In searching for a remedy for the disease he studied it from a medical standpoint and thoroughly recorded his findings. Al-Razi was the first physician to diagnose smallpox and the first to distinguish the difference between smallpox and measles. He also wrote and published the first book on the subject called "Al-Judri wa al-Hasba" which was later translated into Latin, Greek and other European languages. The English translation was published in London in 1848 and was entitled "A Treatise on Smallpox and Measles". Researches attribute this to the first medical book on small pox in recorded history. Al-Razi's book helped prompt Edward Jenner to begin a clinical investigation on the disease. In 1796 he began experimenting with a small pox vaccine and found it successful in preventing the disease and in 1877 the UN announced that for the first time in history small pox had been eradicated. In 1911 the Encyclopaedia Britannica acknowledged Al-Razi's contribution by stating that "The most trustworthy statements as to the early existence of the disease are found in an account by the 9th-century...
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