Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13921
Posted:Over the last few months, we medical students have been subjected to an increasing number of lectures on smallpox.

The history of the rise and fall of smallpox is unique and fascinating. The first recorded outbreak of smallpox was in 1350 during the Egyptian-Hittite war, but it has likely been in existence since the dawn of civilization. For thousands of years, smallpox brought terror to the civilized world. 30% of people who got the disease died of it and countless more were permanently disfigured, disabled, and blinded.

In the late 1700's a British physician, Edward Jenner, acted on reports from milkmaids that those who developed cowpox never developed smallpox. From this, he developed the smallpox vaccine that would remain in use for the next 200 years.

In the last century, we came together as one species, one people, one planet, with one common goal. We managed to do the unthinkable: using a mass vaccination program, we eradicated smallpox from the world! It was truly a beautiful achievement. We overcame our differences and worked together for the greater good. The eradication of smallpox stands as a testament to the indomitable nature of the human spirit.

With a few special exceptions, the vaccine has not been used in the U.S. since 1971. There have been no reported cases in the U.S. since 1947. The last case ever was in a British lab worker in 1978. It is ironic that the same country that gave us the vaccine should have the dubious honor of seeing the last case in history.

So why should medical students be concerning themselves about a disease that has not been seen in a quarter of a century? Because two stocks of smallpox virus are yet known to exist: one in the U.S.A. and one in the former U.S.S.R. It is known that the Soviets successfully weaponized the virus, and it is most likely that the U.S.A. did the same. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union it was noted that some of the stocks were missing. Did they rot in some dumpster, or are they in the hands of less benevolent caretakers (Al-Qaeda)? We haven't the foggiest idea.

We are being trained to recognize smallpox as physicians not just for cultural enrichment, but because there is a very real possibility that someone might intentionally release the disease on a population that is now almost 100% susceptible. The vaccine almost certainly does not offer protection lasting for 30 years in the absence of any exposure to variola virus (the causative agent of smallpox).

It makes me sick. To think that someone might be so selfish, so spiteful, so arrogant as to use those very differences that we overcame as an excuse to undo all the good that we did...

I hope that whoever decides to bring smallpox back to the world has the distinct honor of being the first case.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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Cassandra


Cassandra

Froggie ... Ribbit !!!
Location: Back in Paris... for now !

Total posts: 4224
Posted:I understand your anger, Mike, but please relax. Youre doing one the jobs that face the most injustice I think the worlds lucky you DO care, wed need more of your type. But I hope you dont take things too much at heart and save time to smile and giggle.
Hugs and smiles
Cassandra


"I want brown bread... no, that is diesel oil..."
"So I was raised in Europe, where History comes from ..."
"NON !!! La Plume de mon oncle n est pas Bingibangibungi !!!"

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Rozi
SILVER Member since Jan 2002

100 characters max...
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Total posts: 2996
Posted:Hi Mike

When I read this a chill went right through me, so I can only guess how you feel.
I hope that no one is stupid enough to take this step.


It was a day for screaming at inanimate objects.

What this calls for is a special mix of psychology and extreme violence...

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Mark P
BRONZE Member since Oct 2001

Mark P

old hand
Location: Bath, England

Total posts: 1031
Posted:Chemical warfare is a very worrying state of affairs, it has been particularly relevent since the threats during the Gulf war, of SCUD missiles loaded with deadly viruses.

As chemists (in the pharmaceutical industry which I hope to enter after a period of travelling), we are also constantly trying to find ways of combatting these types of disease.

It does raise the question of why though. I feel there is no need in the world today for anyone to have stocks of dangerous chemical or viral reagents but when one power has them others will follow.

The same goes for nuclear weapons aswell surely more could be done to remove all nuclear weapons but as long as someone believes that another country has nuclear capabilities there will still be the threat of an extremely nasty situation where we would all suffer (not as individuals but as a race)

It does make me sad that there is little that can be done, even though we have made great advances in world peace these threats still hang over us.

Mark


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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13921
Posted:An ironic saving grace of the whole thing is that if anyone does try to start an outbreak, it is almost certain to happen in the U.S. After all, nobody who we think might have a stock has a beef with, say, Zamibia.

And so if there is an outbreak in the U.S., we'll clamp down so quickly on it with vaccine that I doubt more than two or three people will get the disease.

On the other hand, knowing that, perhaps they'll try something else that we haven't forseen. Anthrax is not contagious and it's even curable (if you catch it soon enough), but you'll note that even that caused some panic.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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