Smallpox, once considered the most deadly and horrific disease to sweep the globe, killing millions of people, appears to be finally eradicated. The most recent statistics showed a rather high mortality rate of 30% prior to the development of a vaccine.
The gruesome disease, first known as cowpox, is also one of the earliest known diseases. Signs of pox were evident in the mummies of Egypt in the period of 1570-1085 BC. Other civilizations have revealed burial grounds with the obvious pock marks on well preserved bodies throughout the Roman Empire and where modern Europe is today.
The Spaniards and British brought the virus to the Americas and it spread rapidly among Native American peoples. The blankets and clothing given in trade were laden with the virus, which can live up to six weeks after a person dies of smallpox. Sadly, the colonists knew that these items carried the deadly disease, and instead of burning them, they traded them. But that’s a story for another day.
This is what happened in a typical case:
Smallpox was highly contagious, entering the body through the nose or mouth and travelling to the lungs. There was a 12-14 day incubation period.
The lungs made a perfect environment for multiplying and spreading to all the lymph nodes.
Large pus sacks appear all over the skin, in the eyes and in the mouth.
If any blister burst during this part of the infection, and another person touched anything that the blister fluid came in contact with, the infection spread.
- High fever
- Sore Throat
About a third of the survivors were permanently blinded due to pox in the eye.
Even though no one knew that a virus was the cause of the disease, (a virus we now know as variola,) back in 1796, a British doctor named Edward Jenner performed an experiment on a living human:
…Jenner performed an experiment that would, in good time, cause the virus’ downfall. By inserting pus from a milkmaid with cowpox, a disease closely related to smallpox, into the arms of a healthy 8-year-old boy and then variolating him to no effect, Jenner was able to conclude that a person could be protected from smallpox without having to be directly exposed to it. This was the world’s first successful vaccine, a term that Jenner himself coined.
By 1977, the last known case of smallpox was treated in the US. Even with the advent of the vaccine in the early 1900’s, fear of being inoculated caused large portions of the population to avoid the shot. An outbreak of smallpox crossed over from Canada in 1924, infecting about 4,000 people in Michigan, resulting in 133 deaths.
The only known live smallpox virus is contained in highly secure infectious disease control labs in the US and around the world. However, it still does exist.
The horror of living in a time where one realized that he contracted smallpox could be somewhat minimized now by the hypothetical scenario of contracting Ebola. Ebola is a hemorrhagic fever, which is deadly. The mortality rate is estimated at 50%, but varies widely depending on treatment availability.
This is what Ebola does to a person:
- High Fever
- Muscle aches
- Severe abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, gums, rectum, genitals, and internal organs
It is probably one of the most terrifying ways to die.
The possibility of some sort of pandemic plague or virus mutation sweeping the globe is very real. The race against the clock to develop a vaccine would become a priority, putting all other concerns on the back burner.
So, if you are a person who has decided that vaccines are not a good thing; that vaccinating causes autism or other permanent damage to children or adults; that the government or the medical profession is on a mission to harm humanity instead of to heal, let me pose a question:
If Ebola or a similar highly contagious and deadly horrific disease came sweeping through your hometown and a vaccine became available, and your town became quarantined so you and your family could not leave, would you vaccinate?
Janice Barlow is a true crime author. Her books are on Amazon in soft cover and Kindle. https://www.amazon.com/J.-M.-Barlow/e/B00SUAE9Z4/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1