Throughout history mankind has been ravaged by smallpox, a devastating disease which touched every corner of the earth and was capable of destroying entire civilizations. Through repeated epidemics and pandemics smallpox altered the course of history and is thought to have killed more people than any other infectious disease. Although attempts to control and mitigate the disease had been practiced for thousands of years, it still took nearly two centuries after Jenner’s initial experiments with cowpox and vaccination before smallpox was brought under control. The eventual eradication of smallpox in 1980 is undoubtedly one of mankind’s greatest medical achievements. It is a sad commentary on human nature that, only a few decades after this dreadful scourge was eradicated, smallpox is once again a subject of international concern, due to its potential as a biological weapon. Smallpox has been used as a biological weapon in the past and history has clearly and repeatedly shown that whether intentional or not, outbreaks of this disease in a susceptible population are devastating. Given the morbidity and mortality of this disease it is not surprising that the early part of the 21st century has seen millions of dollars being spent on preparedness, prevention, and therapeutic measures to combat the smallpox threat. Smallpox has been eradicated world-wide and variola-virus is currently found only in secure repositories in the US and Russia.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Title of host publication||Vaccines for Biodefense and Emerging and Neglected Diseases|
|Number of pages||27|
|State||Published - Jan 1 2008|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)