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Smallpox - Almost totally eradicated but should we drop our guard ?
Smallpox was a common terrible disease that killed an estimate of 300 million affected people from the days of ancient Egypt up into the late 19th /early 20th century. It was no respecter of wealth or position and the beggar or the Duke could catch it. In fact so common was it that Queen Elizabeth 1st suffered from it, only surviving because she had access to the best doctors and medication of the day.
It was first noticed that milkmaids rarely caught it and doctors soon realised that because they often suffered a similar mild condition called cowpox it seemed to confer some immunity to them. Thomas Jenner produced a live cowpox vaccine and trialled it successfully on a rather unwilling little boy. Since then the vaccine has been refined and smallpox is claimed to be completely eradicated.
The Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies would have you believe that smallpox is a serious bioterrorist threat. In 1980 WHO announced that smallpox had been eradicated and recommended that all countries ceased vaccination. USA and Britain ceased in about 1972 and, it must be said, that vaccination immunity acquired before that time has probably waned in effect. Russia continued research into its use as a bioweapon and looked at more virulent and contagious strains. Smallpox is a virus spread by contact, with a 30% case-fatality rate. We would be very foolish to ignore the risk that smallpox could be reintroduced by the relatively uncontrolled immigration from third world counties, or some radicalised terrorist group.
There are two forms of smallpox:
Variola major is a serious illness that can be/is life threatening in people who have not been vaccinated
Variola minor is a milder infection that rarely causes death
Antibiotics are used to treat secondary bacterial infection, but there are no proven antiviral agents, in conventional medicine, effective in treating smallpox. The drug cidofovir has worked well in early studies and might have anti-smallpox efficacy and could be used on a limited basis in the event of a bioterror incident involving smallpox cases Brincidofovir, a cidofovir derivative with much higher activity against smallpox, that can be taken orally, has been developed and is in Phase III clinical trials.
However, the following essential oils should be considered in combating the effects of exposure to the smallpox virus and met with some success during the 19th and early 20th century:
Clove – powerful anti-viral and anti-bacterial
Tea Tree Oil – Bactericidal, anti-viral and skin healing.
Oregano – Anti-viral, anti-bacterial and immuno-stimulant.
Thyme – anti-infectious, anti-bacterial and anti-viral.
Melissa – powerful anti-viral, German tests indicate its usefulness against smallpox.
Cedarwood – historically used in the treatment of smallpox.
However, the recommended route is to blend the following: Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Eucalyptus, Onion, Oregano, Ravensara, Sandalwood, Melaleuca, Juniper, Geranium and Thyme. Supportive treatment should also be given with Lavender.
The documented symptoms of a typical smallpox infection start with a high fever and lethargy becoming noticeable about two weeks after exposure to the Variola virus. Further symptoms of headache, sore throat, and vomiting were common as well. Within a few days, a raised disfiguring rash appeared on the face and body, and sores formed inside the mouth, throat, and nose. The rash would become fluid-filled pustules which would develop and expand sometimes joining together and covering large areas of skin. Severe itching would seriously affect the patient and many committed suicide rather than endure this stage. After about three weeks of illness, scabs formed and began to separate from the skin, but these scabs were highly infectious.
About 30% of patients died, typically in the second week of infection. Most survivors had some degree of permanent scarring, which, particularly if scratched could be extensive. Other deformities noted could result, in loss of lip, nose, and ear tissue and blindness could occur as a result of corneal scarring.
Smallpox was spread by close contact with the sores or respiratory droplets of an infected person. Contaminated bedding or clothing could also spread the disease and in an ideal world should be burned. As mentioned patients remained infectious until the last scab separated from the skin even in the case of dead bodies. As burial rather than cremation was the normal method there was some fear that the graveyards would become an infected area.
Only two laboratories in the world are known to have a small stock of smallpox virus: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Ga., and the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology in Koltsovo, Russia.
Smallpox can also result in a condition known as Madarosis where you lose some or all of your eyelashes. These will re-grow once the disease is cured.
The possible spread of Smallpox
Although rarely seen are you concerned that the migration of people could result in Smallpox affecting us all again ?
- The River Hospitals - Dartford Long Reach Smallpox Hospital ships.
It wasn't until 1796 that the first successful moves were made to prevent and cope with the dreadful disease smallpox. Much was owed to Edward Jenner and the foresight of the London hospitals
© 2012 Peter Geekie