Smallpox

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Smallpox was an infectious disease caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names variola or variola vera, derived from varius ("spotted") or varus ("pimple"). The disease was originally known in English as the "pox" or "red plague".

Quotes[edit]

  • Its decline in the later decades of the nineteenth century was at one time almost universally attributed to vaccination, but it is doubtful how true this is. Vaccination was never carried out with any degree of completeness, even among infants, and was maintained at a high level for a few decades only. There was therefore always a large proportion of the population unaffected by the vaccination laws. Revaccination affected only a fraction. At present the population is largely entirely unvaccinated. Members of the public health service now flatter themselves that the cessation of such outbreaks as do occur is due to their efforts. But is this so? The history of the rise, the change in age incidence, and the decline of smallpox rather lead to the conclusion that we may here have to do with a natural cycle of disease like plague, and that smallpox is no longer a natural disease for this country.
    • G.K. Bowes, “Epidemic Disease: Past, Present and Future,” Journal of the Royal Sanitary Institute 66, no. 3 (1946): 174–79
  • Public health and vaccination programs rest on one central story: that they were crucial to the elimination of one of history’s greatest killers, smallpox. As we’ve seen, this is not true.

External links[edit]

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