Dermatology Studies and The History of Smallpox

The history of smallpox is very important within dermatology, as it shows how a disease that took the lives of millions, was successfully eradicated through a curable vaccination – the only human disease to have ever been fully wiped out by vaccination. In the last half decade though, smallpox has been propping up again in the media with concerns that it could return.
Levitra super active Canada
The first cases of smallpox go back thousands of years which makes it difficult to pinpoint its exact origin; it is commonly agreed though that it began in Africa – spreading to highly populated India and China. In terms of dates, the first recorded account of a smallpox epidemic was in 1350 BC; with the first European outbreak thought to be during the 5th century. By the 18th century, smallpox existed with high concern in both major European cities and colonies in Northern America. At its most dangerous, this disease was rife throughout the whole world – with only Australia and some small island archipelagos free of its destruction. In dermatology, the word ‘destruction’ would be an acceptable term, as it literally killed millions – most notoriously in Europe and Mexico.

A giant step towards the treatment and eradication of this disease can be dated back to the 11thcentury, although rather shockingly – it took several hundreds of years for a possible cure to be implemented worldwide. It was discovered that those who had managed to survive and overcome the disease, were immune from catching it again. Variolation was a process where those who had not previously contracted smallpox, would be exposed to the disease in small amounts – enough so that they could build up a defense for the future, but not so much that they were seriously infected.

Absurd as it sounds now, this first realization for immunity was discovered by a Buddhist nun who would take scabs from those infected and grind them down into a powder; then guiding the healthy to inhale some of the powder through the nose! In the 18th century, this process was being used throughout China and India before reaching Europe in the latter half of the century. It was a success for dermatology of course – with a major reduction in the deaths through smallpox. Those healthy participants who would be given the disease in small doses, would mostly go on to become immune – with just 2-3% of deaths through the enforcement of this method.

The history of smallpox becomes even more fascinating still, with the observation of an English physician by the name of Edward Jenner. He discovered that those working closely with cows (such as milkmaids) were infected with cowpox which was less serious than smallpox. However, none of them seem to contract the smallpox virus – interesting! He took fluid from the hand of a milkmaid infected by cowpox and injected it in a young boy; with whom six weeks later showed no symptoms of smallpox despite been exposed to the disease.

This was the birth of the vaccination against smallpox and was used in wide circulation by the turn of the 19th century. In 1967, the World Health Organization and dermatology specialists devised a program to eradicate smallpox worldwide – it took ten years with the last known case in Somalia. Three years after this, it was officially declared that smallpox was a thing of the past.


4 Responses Leave a comment

Leave a Reply