Medical Essay on Smallpox

4 pages
830 words
Wesleyan University
Type of paper: 
Critical thinking
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Before the eradication of smallpox, mankind had been devastated for many centuries. Currently, people do not necessarily have to worry about smallpox. This is due to the extraordinary work of Edward Jenner. With the advancement in technology, the historic origins of smallpox are often neglected or forgotten. Unfortunately, there are some instances that occur on some parts of the world that threaten to bring back smallpox once again such as the attack on the World Trade Center in the united states in 2001. This is due to the reemergence of the global threat of bioterrorism or biological warfare. Since its eradication, smallpox has been identified as a possible agent of bioterrorism. It is thus imperative to comprehend the origin, history the pathological consequences of smallpox since relatively a small number of individuals comprehend smallpox.

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Since it is difficult to pinpoint the exact time or the evolution of smallpox, virologists often speculate that the virus evolved from an African rodent poxvirus approximately 10 millennia ago. The name of smallpox is derived from a Latin word that stands for spotted and may also refers to the raised bumps that are on the face and the body of the patient. The disease was typically transferred from one individual to another through aerosols or nuclei that are expelled from the oropharynx. The transmission of the disease is through direct person to person has also been described in some instances. Up to date, there has been no known animal reservoir of smallpox. Since the dawn of making, smallpox has wreaked havoc upon civilization. It is also astounding to comprehend the story behind the astounding medical achievement that was used to eradicate the disease and more so the concerted efforts of global vaccination.

It is imperative to comprehend that some of the earliest evidence of smallpox was found in ancient Egypt. These were in times where international traders were responsible for spreading small pox all over the world. Smallpox has profoundly and directly influenced the course of human history. The ability of the virus to be tremendously morbid us and mortality led to the indiscriminate killings of warlords, kings, and emperors. This impact eventually led to the tipping of power with regularity both in Europe and in Africa. Due to the severity of smallpox, some whole civilizations such as the Incas were destroyed in only a single generation. The efforts to ward off the disease had both immense impacts on the practice of religion, witchcraft, and medicine.

The social and political impacts that the release of smallpox would be massive. In the instance that a clandestine release of smallpox, even, 50 to 100 individuals could prove diabolical. Considering the highly susceptible human population, the disease would spread to many areas worldwide in a matter of a few days. This is because the disease would expand by a factor of 10 to 20 times for every individual who is infected. As a result, an instance of a diagnosis of smallpox, regardless of the area of origin, the place must be cordoned off and the individuals within the area isolated. The people who are in close contact with the infected persons should be vaccinated in addition to being placed under surveillance for any symptoms of the disease.

The level of education that a population has regarding the smallpox disease is vital in fighting the disease in any instance that there is an outbreak. This is because there is the need for a prompt initial reaction to the containment of the disease or approaching the endemic. Governments have to work together especially when isolating the infected individuals and the prevention of the transfer of the disease from one country to another. The environment played a key role in the spread of smallpox. This is because the transmission was airborne. This, however, is only with regard to the prevention of the disease. It was only through concerted efforts by some scientists such as Edward Jenner who came up with strategies to defeat the virus. It is only through collaboration that smallpox was eradicated.

There are however some people who may decide to utilize the variola virus in a different way. Some people may resort towards using it as a weapon. Due to the successful eradication of the virus, there has been an immense laxity in regard to vaccination of the disease. In fact, nearly 50 percent of the earth population has not been vaccinated and the individuals who have been vaccinated are still not yet out of the woods as the value of the vaccination requires boosting after every ten years. The probability of someone trying to use the virus as a weapon cannot be understated. As a result, there was a need to ensure that to prevent such a tragedy from occurring in the present and in the past, there is need to have an adequate stockpile of a vaccine for the virus. It is only through proper education of the public and the medical community that a cornerstone of the preventive efforts be successful.

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