Small Pox

Topics: Smallpox, Vaccination, Edward Jenner Pages: 5 (1806 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Small Pox

Small pox, which was once the most feared disease known by mankind started out in the days of Christopher Columbus. The disease set out to change the lives of the people in the worse way. It became known as an epidemic disease that ended up killing hundreds of people. Small pox started out in Hispaniola and because of no cure, it traveled to the island of Puerto Rico, and then Cuba. It was only a matter of time until it spread to the mainland, somewhere in America. In the Middle Ages, small pox was a highly contagious disease which often lead to death if not treated. In this term paper you will read and learn about the causes, symptoms and treatments of this horrible disease.

Small pox which was often refereed to as a life threatening disease, is caused by a virus, which was not discovered until the nineteenth century. Most of the victims whom acquired small pox, was a result of face to face contact. It is passed through the nose where tiny particles are released when the infected person sneezes, also by the mouth where particles are once again ejected when the victim coughs. The disease can be transmitted by dried small pox scabs and through materials the infected person has come in contact with. The virus is reproduced in the lymphoid tissue and released into the body. Virus reproduction begins when the virion comes into contact with a suitable host cell. The virus must interact with a receptor on the cell surface. The infectious cycle usually consists of two stages. The first stage makes the proteins necessary for the protein to form. The second stage forms the adult virion to start the attack on the body. Smallpox attack with no warning.

There are several painful symptoms that are brought upon by this disease. In most of the cases, symptoms in a new victim will occur ten to twelve days later. Patients will develop chills, high fever, and nausousness. The fevers may reach up to 105 degrees farenht. In three or four days later a rash erupts and the fever and discomfort may subside. It begins on the face, then spreading to the chest, arms, back and finally the legs. It consists of hard red lumps which become pimple like, swelling and containing puss. "The pustules gave the disease its name, by which it was first known in the west as Variola" (Giblin 59). This rash itches severely but scratching must be avoided in order to prevent another infection from forming. "Up to forty percent of the patients died, in the rest, scabs eventually formed and then fell off, leaving permanent pits and scars in the skin" ( Lawrence 365). Some of the patients were also left blinded. The victims who were faced with this dreadful disease, suffered terribly. In some cases if sever enough the patient would lose the battle with smallpox and die. Sometimes the rash would never heal completely and cause an acne type look on the persons body. There is no medication to clear up the acne it is perminit, sometimes worse than others.

In 1796, Edward Jenner, a British physician, developed the first vaccine to prevent small pox (Johnston 92). At the age of eight he experienced a painful fight with small pox. This was his inspiration to discover a method to prevent the suffering of small pox victims. The news of this marvelous development spread quickly and it was soon used widely around the world. During the 1800's many countries required everyone as a law, to receive the vaccine. It was recognized that the vaccine was the best quality and the disease continued to spread. The vaccination contained the virus that causes cowpox, this disease is similar to small pox but a milder form. This causes the production of antibodies that give protection against both cowpox and small pox. There is no specific treatment for small pox. Due to the disease being so contagious, patients need to be isolated until they are completely recovered. The sores must be kept clean and penicillin...
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