Smallpox Viruses Essay

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For approximately three-thousand years, smallpox has ravaged and plagued the four corners of the globe. In fact, in the 17 th and 18 th centuries, it was claimed to be the most infectious disease in the West, with an astounding 90% mortality rate in America. It wasn't until 1796, with English surgeon Edward Jenner's smallpox vaccination, that the world saw relief from this devastating virus. However, even with this inoculation in use, the world continued to witness death from both the virus and the vaccine. In the year 1966, it was estimated that 10-15 million infected citizens world wide had passed away from smallpox that year alone ( “History” 12). As a result of these devastating numbers, in the following year, 1967, the World Health…show more content…
Being a highly contagious, deadly and airborne virus, it would be virtually impossible to completely eradicate smallpox. Peter Jahrling, the scientist that discovered the deadly Ebola-Reston virus, once stated, “If you really believe there's a bioterrorist threat out there, then you can't get rid of smallpox. If smallpox is outlawed, only outlaws will have smallpox ( Preston 4).” To date, only Russia and the United States have clearance to maintain the smallpox virus in two selected laboratories. Enforced by the W.H.O, this was mandated to ensure that the virus cultures could be heavily monitored and researched to prevent future outbreaks. Unfortunately, the power that is associated with having access to a virus as devastating as smallpox is often interwoven with greed. For example, in 1991, British inspectors discovered that the Russian government had been testing bio-nuclear weapons using smallpox in an unauthorized base ( Preston 6). Since smallpox can be used as a powerful weapon, there is no way to determine what country may try to obtain it. Additionally, even if a country was highly suspected of testing the virus for warfare, it would be difficult to prove that the country actually had virus cultures. During that same inspection in Russia, for instance, the head of the base that was testing this virus denied any association with the
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