Smallpox is a dire, highly contagious, and often lethal disease that is caused by the variola virus that can be spread by air or by direct contact through people or clothing that has been contaminated by the pus or scabs. Smallpox has been a problem for many countries throughout the world because of the serious epidemics it has caused. An attempt was made to completely obliterate the disease and in 1979 the World Health Association (WHO) announced that smallpox had been eradicated from the world.
The WHO monitored the disease for another year to make sure that there were truly no more outbreaks and in 1980 it was official that smallpox had been wiped from existence. Despite the virus’s global obliteration, there are still samples of the virus in two laboratories in the United States and if those get into the wrong hands they could be a means of biological warfare. The origin of the smallpox virus is unknown, but there is a speculation that it may have arisen from one of the other pox viruses or one of the wild or tamed animals in Asia or Africa.
From there, it spread to other countries and territories through warfare, conquest, and trading. Smallpox has caused huge epidemics that resulted in massive death tolls around the world. It is an ancient disease, and there are traces of the disease all the way back to Pharaoh Ramses V of the Eighteenth Egyptian Dynasty. There is also historical evidence that says people tried vaccinating against smallpox in the sixth century when it spread from China to Japan. Scientists tried doing this by scratching a small amount of the pus from a person infected with smallpox into a person who had never come in contact with the disease.
Nine times out of ten the person obtained full on smallpox; even though he was only exposed to the tiniest amount of the virus. This was just a means of the disease spreading even more and making the epidemic even worse. In the tenth century in China, India, and America it was recorded that people who survived the smallpox virus could never get it again in their lifetime. These makeshift vaccinations were outlawed in colonial times when smallpox was a huge epidemic because of the risk of infecting more people that accompanied them.
One of the major epidemics for smallpox occurred around colonial time in the 1600’s and the 1800’s. It affected the Native American tribes in North America and was brought over by the English. The English already had an immune system to fend off the disease but the Natives had never been exposed to any of the diseases so they proved to be deadly. Once one of the natives was infected, he would spread that to his entire tribe because smallpox was so infectious. Smallpox is the one main reason that the majority of the Native Americans are wiped out today.
There is no accurate number to show how many natives died from the smallpox disease but the government estimated that it killed approximately 1 to 120 million natives. “The Global Eradication of Smallpox. ” Science and Its Times. Ed. Neil Schlager and Josh Lauer. Vol. 7. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Science In Context. Web. 11 Apr. 2013. Smallpox was responsible for more than 400,000 deaths per year in the eighteenth century in Europe. It was also responsible for approximately 300-500 million deaths in the 20th century. In 1967 the WHO estimated that 15 million people contracted the disease and 2 million died from it.
There are two clinical forms of smallpox. The first is variola major which is the most severe form of smallpox which gives a more extensive rash and a higher fever. There are four subcategories of variola major. The first of these is ordinary smallpox. This is the most common form of smallpox and accounts for 90% of smallpox cases. The second form is modified smallpox which only occurs in people who have been previously vaccinated. The third form of smallpox is flat smallpox. This is a very deadly malignant form of smallpox where lesions appear on the skin but do not break the surface.
The fatality rate for flat smallpox is approximately 90 %. The last form of smallpox is hemorrhagic smallpox which is a very rare, very severe, and highly fatal form of smallpox in which hemorrhages develop on the surface of the skin. The fatality rate for hemorrhagic smallpox is nearly 100%. All four forms of variola major smallpox had an overall death rate of 30%. The second clinical form of smallpox is variola minor. This is a much less common form of smallpox and it has death rates of 1% or less. “Smallpox Disease Overview. ” CDC Smallpox. N. p. , n. d. Web. 1 Apr. 2013. Once you are exposed to the smallpox virus you have an incubation period that can range from 12 to 14 days or 7 to 17 days. At this time you do not know you have the virus and exhibit no symptoms. The virus is simply multiplying inside of you. The first symptoms of smallpox are fevers, chills, vomiting, muscle aches, and a purple rash on the chest and back. The fever is usually between 101 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. This is called the prodromal phase and these symptoms would last for a few days and then the rash will go away and the fever will drop.
A day or two later the fever would return and small red spots will appear on the tongue and the inside of the mouth. These spots will develop into sores that will break open and spread a large amount of the virus into the mouth and throat. As the sores are breaking out a rash appears on the face that spreads to the arms and legs and then to the hands and feet. The rash will spread to all parts of the body within 24 hours and as the rash appears the person will start to feel better. Then the rash starts transforming into raised bumps.
The fourth day the bumps fill with a clear thick fluid that have an indent in the middle. The fever will return at this point. After about five days the bumps feel as if there is a BB pellet embedded inside of the skin. Then the bumps begin to form scabs over them and after about two weeks all of the bumps have formed scabs. The scabs then begin to fall off. Most of the scabs will have fallen off the skin by about three weeks. The patient is contagious until every scab has fallen off the body. Once all of the scabs have fallen off the person is no longer contagious and has survived smallpox. Smallpox. ” Sick! Gale, 2007. Science In Context. Web. 11 Apr. 2013. Doctors have generally been good at identifying the smallpox virus simply by examining a patient. The skin lesions were had a very unique appearance that was different from all the other pox viruses such as chickenpox and cowpox. Smallpox tends to infect mainly the face, arms, legs, hands, and feet with boils that fill with fluid while chickenpox tends to infect mainly the chest and face while still infecting the rest of the body just not in an as severe way and the bumps from chickenpox do not fill with a fluid.
Some other things that would help the doctors identify that the patient had smallpox were the red spots in the mouth that would eventually turn into sores, and also the purple rash that appears on the body two to three days after you first start showing symptoms. Because there was a smallpox epidemic, doctors knew what to look for back in the colonial times when it was affecting people the most. In modern times we could get a diagnosis by more up-to-date means. One of these would be doing a blood test.
The blood could be examined under an electron microscope and the doctors could physically see the variola virus under this microscope. This would let the doctors know one hundred percent that the patient has smallpox. This will not be needed today though because the variola virus has been obliterated from the world except for a few samples in laboratories that are only kept in case there is an epidemic of the virus again. They would be needed to help create a cure for smallpox. . “Smallpox. ” Sick! Gale, 2007. Science In Context. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.
Smallpox is a very contagious virus that can be transmitted to another person simply by breathing the same air as a person who has smallpox or by some of the pus from their scab getting onto your clothing. It is a very hard virus to prevent if there is an epidemic in the country you live in. One way to prevent it would be to isolate yourself from everyone around you and not go in public. You wouldn’t want to be near anyone who could have possibly been exposed to the virus. A more modern way to prevent the virus is by getting the smallpox vaccine.
This will cause your body to build up smallpox antibodies and make it less likely that you will acquire the disease in the future. “Smallpox. ” The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. Ed. K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner. 4th ed. Detroit: Gale, 2011. Science In Context. Web. 15 Mar. 2013. A person who has smallpox can never receive the disease again. Because of this fact, back in the tenth century in china people were rubbing the pus from someone else’s smallpox scab and scratching it into themselves. Their hopes were that they would get a mild form of the virus and not be able to get it again in their life time.
Of course this had mixed results though because some people developed full-blown smallpox and died as a result. The vaccine for smallpox was discovered by Edward Jenner on May 17, 1976. He observed that milkmaids usually do not get smallpox so he speculated that there must be a connection between smallpox and cowpox. He figured that because they were exposed to the pus from cowpox that they were immune to smallpox as well. He tested his hypothesis by injecting an eight year old boy with cowpox and giving him cowpox blisters. He then injected him with mallpox but nothing happened. He was the first scientist to prove that you can become immune to smallpox and thus he discovered the smallpox vaccine. By the twentieth century an effective smallpox vaccine had been created. Most young children in flourishing nations were vaccinated and smallpox began to die out in those parts of the world but it was still a problem in new developing nations. There was never a cure that was found for smallpox, only a vaccine was created to prevent it. If you contract the variola your only hope is to wait out the virus and hope that you survive it.
In 1967 the World Health Association (WHO) began a campaign to eliminate the virus. They carefully observed the entire world in search of smallpox outbreaks. If they saw any, they would send WHO workers to that area and vaccinate everybody. The program proved to be successful and by 1980 all traces of the smallpox virus had been destroyed. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 the United States had a fear that terrorists would use smallpox as a form of biological warfare. They set up a plan that would allow them to vaccinate the entire population that was affected by the virus and eliminate it.
The United States government created 170 million smallpox vaccinations as of 2006 and they remain in a laboratory in case. The concept of using smallpox as a biological weapon is a very old concept that has been used in history many times. Smallpox has been used as a biological weapon during the French Indian Wars from 1754-1767. The Europeans distributed blankets to the Native Americans that were infected with smallpox in order to spread the disease throughout the tribes and eliminate them. The death rate in the tribes was as high as 50 percent merely because of the virus.
It was also used in the years leading up to World War I by Japan during their operations of Unit 731 in Mongolia and China. “Who Discovered Smallpox Vaccine? ” RSS. Word Press, n. d. Web. 11 Apr. 2013. “Smallpox: eradication, storage, and potential use as a bacteriological weapon. “World of Microbiology and Immunology. Ed. Brenda Wilmoth Lerner and K. Lee Lerner. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Science In Context. Web. 11 Apr. 2013. In Conclusion smallpox is a highly contagious disease that cannot be treated; the symptoms can only be cared for at best.
It has been a disease that has terrorized countries throughout history from the Native Americans to China to Japan. A vaccine for the disease was not discovered until the year 1976 when Edward Jenner experimented with the similarities between cowpox and smallpox and discovered that someone who has cowpox can never get smallpox. This led to the formation of a vaccine that was used to vaccinate many people. The only way to prevent smallpox from spreading is by vaccinating a large amount of people in one area so the disease will eventually die out.
This was successful by the World Health Association when they eradicated it from the earth entirely besides samples of the virus that were left in laboratories in the United States and Russia in case someone tries using it as a biological weapon or there is another outbreak of the disease. It would be needed in order to create a vaccine and eradicate the disease again. If there were another outbreak of smallpox we would be more prepared to deal with it because the United States already has 170 million vaccines stockpiled in a laboratory.
Cite this Vaccination and Effective Smallpox Vaccine
Vaccination and Effective Smallpox Vaccine. (2016, Oct 14). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/vaccination-and-effective-smallpox-vaccine/