Download Angel of Death: The Story of Smallpox by Gareth Williams PDF

By Gareth Williams

The tale of the increase and fall of smallpox, some of the most savage killers within the historical past of mankind, and the one ailment ever to be effectively exterminated (30 years in the past subsequent yr) via a public future health crusade. Proceeds from the sale of this ebook will to to aid the Edward Jenner Museum in Berkeley, united kingdom (visit www.jennermuseum.com).

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Extra info for Angel of Death: The Story of Smallpox

Example text

It could be mistaken for chickenpox, measles, syphilis (nicknamed the ‘Great Deceiver’ because it mimicked so many other skin diseases) and other rarer eruptions. 45 Some of these missed cases were not isolated quickly enough and went on to cause fatal outbreaks. 46 Classically, smallpox was least dense on the trunk, favoured the backs rather than the fronts of the hands and arms, went through the same stage simultaneously across the whole body and was accompanied by severe general symptoms. According to the books, chickenpox did none of these things, but in real life, atypical cases of both diseases were not unusual.

Day and night, someone continually bathed my eyes which eventually stuck with with discharge. One morning, the nurse said to me that she had expected to find me blind – but I could see all right. I had had my hair cut off when the pimples first showed and later my head was one mass of suppuration. I remember shouting out with the pain. I could not bear light or noise. All the openings of my body were filled with pus. My throat was especially painful and I could only whisper. I don’t remember other details except that the eruption on my body gradually extended to my feet.

These ‘Guarnieri bodies’, later used as a diagnostic feature of smallpox, were indeed the cause but were not bacteria. Instead, they were the ‘virus factories’ that churn out thousands of replicated viruses, which are individually too small to see clearly with the light microscope. 17 It was another 50 years before the variola virus was isolated and finally visualised. At this point, a brief sortie into the peculiar world of viruses will help to explain what smallpox did. Like a good dental procedure, this account aims to be quick and painless.

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