- Had a 30% mortality rate.
- killed 300 Million people in the 1900s - more than any conflict that took place in that time combined.
- Helped colonizers decimate Native American populations in the Americas.
- Left people blind, deaf, or horrifically scarred.
Have you guessed the disease yet?
Smallpox is a disease caused by the variola virus (related to cowpox and chickenpox), that is mainly spread by airborne viruses which come into contact with mucosal membranes. The individual infected was usually most infectious while skin lesions were present.
There were four routes that the disease could take:
- Ordinary: 90% of cases, fatality rate 30%. Characterized by the diffuse skin lesions (pictured above).
- Modified: rarely fatal, occurred mainly in vaccinated individuals. Characterized by no fever and a quickly resolving rash.
- Malignant: 5% percent of cases, occurred mainly in children. Nearly alway fatal. Characterized by lesions flush with the skin. Often, a day or two before death, the lesions turned ashen gray.
- Hemorrhagic: 2% of cases, mostly in adults. Fatality rate 95-100%. Characterized by extensive bleeding into the skin, mucous membranes, and gastrointestinal tract. Skin bruised by the bleeding would take on a black appearance, giving it the name Black Pox.
So how come we don't see smallpox anymore? Because it is one of the only two disease in the world to be completely eradicated.