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The Eradication of Smallpox - Research Paper Example

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The main research questions are: What is the history of the eradication of smallpox? What are the ramifications of maintaining a reserve stock of the virus in research laboratories? Smallpox has been one of the most fatal infectious diseases to have afflicted humankind in recorded history…
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The Eradication of Smallpox
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"The Eradication of Smallpox"

Download file to see previous pages The present research has identified that since smallpox was spread by air, it was very difficult to contain it in congested human settlements such as cities.  Not until the discovery of medical vaccination were humans able to protect themselves against smallpox. While vaccination option remained controversial throughout, there is no doubt that it greatly helped contain the disease and save thousands of lives. The improvement in sanitary conditions in cities and hygiene levels in hospitals had also contributed to controlling the disease. As statistics from Britains National Health Service shows, the first stage in the elimination of smallpox was achieved during the middle of last century, when “virulent smallpox (variola) was replaced naturally in Britain by a milder type (alastrim), antigenically identical but with a much lower mortality (1 percent). This was then gradually eliminated by increased attention to isolation and contact tracing”. However, the threat of smallpox still persisted as sporadic outbreaks of both these variants remained till the 1960s. But through a combination of vaccination, safety legislation and improvement in sanitary conditions, smallpox was completely eradicated from Europe and America by 1970. The World Health Organization was encouraged by the success in advanced countries and attempted to replicate this success in the rest of the world. But the medical community always had hope, for smallpox was an ideal candidate for eradication. For example, the immune system of the affected individual got boosted after about. Secondly, “the virus was antigenically stable (unlike influenza); there were no carriers (unlike typhoid) or animal reservoirs (unlike malaria)”. To add to this, effective vaccines were being developed. And the medical community was also aware that robust control measures can be implemented to contain an emerging epidemic. So in the 1970s, a worldwide eradication drive was implemented. Surveillance-containment was the buzzword associated with this drive. This involved “trained workers searching for cases, with rewards for those who found them. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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