Smallpox

A friend of mine, when I proposed starting this blog, thought I should focus on how dangerous some diseases are.  That was a good suggestion and it coincides with where I wanted to start.

So here is where the world of vaccination started.  Smallpox.  I bet most readers of this blog have never seen a case of smallpox.  If you haven’t, you’re lucky.  Because if you saw one up close, you’d run.  Here’s a young girl from Bangladesh with advanced smallpox.

Bangladeshi girl with smallpox in the 1970's.

Bangladeshi girl with smallpox in the 1970’s.

Heartbreaking, isn’t it?  The sores, or pustules, if she survived the attack, turned to horrific, deforming scars.  Some of the other possible side effects of survival included potential encephalitis (brain swelling), osteoarthritis, corneal scarring or blindness.  You get the picture.  Acute smallpox (yes there are degrees of smallpox awfulness) killed about from 30-75% of its victims, from what I can gather from casually scanning internet records.

Smallpox has been known since ancient times.  It’s thousands of years old.  It’s a natural, vicious, horrific disease.  A smallpox epidemic was feared by all cultures, all political systems, everyone.  If you want more info on the history of smallpox in the US, read Pox.  It’s far-better researched than anything I can attempt here.  Brilliant stuff.

Currently, smallpox is (effectively) eradicated because of a concerted, determined, dogged, worldwide vaccination campaign that seized on a bit of biological serendipity.  And that will be the subject of my next post.

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About patlowder

I'm a chemist, patent attorney, husband of one wife, dad of two sons, and I am (a progressive, whatever that label implies) Christian. I have had a rich, varied life and I give thanks for it. Just to be clear, this blog reflects personal views and is not intended as an advertisement for legal services, or should be considered a "law blog." You should not take anything I say to be a legal opinion on any topic and you don't create an attorney-client relationship by reading it. That requires an executed written contract.
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2 Responses to Smallpox

  1. Susan Ozmore says:

    Patrick,
    I’m excited to see your blog. This is an area I am interested as well. I have read POX and agree that it is fascinating and horrifying. Oh and your mom told me about the blog 🙂 I’ll definitely keep reading.
    Susan

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