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Where Did Smallpox Go?

I love reading medical history and JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) has a feature in each journal from the past. In December, 1921 (100 years ago), the editorial talked about the smallpox plague that was "the most terrible of all the ministers of death". Smallpox was always present and was found around the world; "filling the churchyard with corpses, tormenting with constant fear all whom it had not yet stricken, leaving on those whose lives it spared the hideous traces of its power, turning the babe into a changeling at which the mother shuddered, and making the eyes and cheeks of the betrothed maiden objects of horror to the lover". Yikes...we certainly don't want to turn off mothers and lovers!

Edward Jenner discovered the first vaccination in 1796 for cowpox. Sometime in the 1800's it changed to a vaccine against smallpox and gradually achieved acceptance. Yet over 125 years later, in 1921, the United States recorded more than 34,000 cases in just 1 1/2 years supplied by 7 states to the U.S. Public Health Services. More than 2/3 of those cases had never been vaccinated and the others had unknown vaccine status. The article ends by saying "Again, the lesson to the public is clear and imperative-and there is little left for the consolidation of the anti vaccination cult, which is doubtless responsible directly or indirectly for some of this unnecessary suffering."

Antivaccination cult! Over 100 yers ago.

(Traces of smallpox were found on the head of the 3000 year old mummy,Pharaoh Ramses V)

Most readers probably know that Smallpox has been removed from the world, thanks to an intensive eradication vaccination project started in 1967. The countries of the world, lead by WHO were able to announce on May 8, 1980 that Smallpox had been eliminated on planet Earth.


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