History and Eradication of Smallpox Essay

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History and Eradication of Smallpox

The smallpox virus has affected the human species for centuries. It has been recorded as early as 1350 BC in ancient Egypt.The smallpox disease is caused by the Variola virus which only inhabits the human organism. There are two forms of the disease major and minor. The major has a mortality rate of 20-40% of untreated individuals. Though major and minor eventually run the same course and the outcome is the same, the major has symptoms that are distinct from the minor form, including hemorrhaging both internally and externally. Early treatment of the disease was variolation, and was the only method of treatment until the vaccine was discovered by Edward Jenner. The World Health Organization (WHO)
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Smallpox claimed great individuals such as: Marcus Aurelius (emperor of Rome, AD 180), Abbul al-Abbaas al-
History and Eradication of Smallpox 2
Saffah ( the first Abbasid caliph), William II of Orange, Ferdinand IV (king of Austria, 1654), Joseph I (king of Austria, 1711), Peter II (Tsar of Russia, 1730), Louis XV (king of France, 1774), Mary II (Queen of England). Also affected by the virus, though not killed, were individuals that include: Elizabeth I of England, and Abraham Lincoln who was ill with disease during the Gettysburg Address.(Encarta 2000)
Smallpox also has a record of decimating or contributing to the demise of great empires. The first stages of the decline of the Roman Empire coincided with an epidemic, the plague of Antonine, which caused the demise of approximately 3.5-7 million individuals. Smallpox also played a role in the destruction of the Aztec and Inca empires, brought over by the Spanish and the Portuguese conquistadors. With the introduction of Spaniards in Mexico in 1518, the population of natives declined from 25 million inhabitants to 1.6 million in 1620(Encarta 2000). The devastating effects of smallpox also gave way to its use as a biological weapon. The first known example of smallpox being used in that manner was found in a letter written to Colonel Henry Bouquet in 1763, where a Sir Jeffery Amherst, commander-in-chief of the British forces stationed in North America, suggested the