Skip to comments.The Demon in the Freezer [Small Pox]
Posted on 10/20/2001 9:13:13 PM PDT by r9etb
Probably the best article on Small Pox I've seen.
Last week, the news was filled with talk of bioterrorism and chemical warfare. One of the threats that were mentioned frequently was smallpox, the virus that now exists only in laboratories but is thought to have killed more people than any other infectious disease in history. This piece, about smallpox and its potential as a biological weapon, originally appeared in the July 12, 1999, issue of the magazine. A related article by Preston, on renewed efforts to create a vaccine, which appeared in The Talk of the Town six months later, follows.
The smallpox virus first became entangled with the human species somewhere between three thousand and twelve thousand years agopossibly in Egypt at the time of the Pharaohs. Somewhere on earth at roughly that time, the virus jumped out of an unknown animal into its first human victim, and began to spread. Viruses are parasites that multiply inside the cells of their hosts, and they are the smallest life forms. Smallpox developed a deep affinity for human beings. It is thought to have killed more people than any other infectious disease, including the Black Death of the Middle Ages. It was declared eradicated from the human species in 1979, after a twelve-year effort by a team of doctors and health workers from the World Health Organization. Smallpox now exists only in laboratories. Smallpox is explosively contagious, and it travels through the air. Virus particles in the mouth become airborne when the host talks. If you inhale a single particle of smallpox, you can come down with the disease. After you've been infected, there is a typical incubation period of ten days. During that time, you feel normal. Then the illness hits with a spike of fever, a backache, and vomiting, and a bit later tiny red spots appear all over the body. The spots turn into blisters, called pustules, and the pustules enlarge, filling with pressurized opalescent pus. The eruption of pustules is sometimes called the splitting of the dermis. The skin doesn't break, but splits horizontally, tearing away from its underlayers. The pustules become hard, bloated sacs the size of peas, encasing the body with pus, and the skin resembles a cobblestone street.
Click Here to read the rest.
Everyone should read this article!!
Things used to be so much simpler. Our poor children.
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