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Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox / Edition 1
     

Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox / Edition 1

by Jonathan B. Tucker
 

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ISBN-10: 0802139396

ISBN-13: 2900802139398

Pub. Date: 08/28/2002

Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

Smallpox, the only infectious disease to have been eradicated, was one of the most terrifying of human scourges. It covered the skin with hideous, painful boils, killed a third of its victims, and left the survivors disfigured for life. In this riveting, often terrifying look at the history of smallpox, Jonathan B. Tucker tells the story of this deadly disease, the

Overview

Smallpox, the only infectious disease to have been eradicated, was one of the most terrifying of human scourges. It covered the skin with hideous, painful boils, killed a third of its victims, and left the survivors disfigured for life. In this riveting, often terrifying look at the history of smallpox, Jonathan B. Tucker tells the story of this deadly disease, the heroic efforts to eradicate it worldwide, and the looming dangers it still poses today.

Over the centuries, the smallpox virus afflicted rich and poor, royalty and commoners, and repeatedly altered the course of human history. In the sixteenth century, the Spanish conquistadors brought smallpox to the new world where it spread like wildfire among the indigenous populations, enabling the Spanish to conquer the Aztecs and Incas. In the eighteenth century, smallpox was so widespread in Europe that most people either became immune or died from the infection in childhood. Acquired immunity allowed the British army to employ smallpox as a biological weapon against North American Indian tribes in the aftermath of the French and Indian War.

No safe way of preventing smallpox existed until 1796, when an English country doctor named Edward Jenner developed a vaccine against it. During the ensuing 170 years, vaccination banished smallpox from the industrialized countries, but it remained a major cause of suffering and death in the developing world, killing almost two million people a year. Finally, in 1967, the World Health Organization launched an intensified global campaign to eradicate smallpox. By early 1978, the disease had been eliminated worldwide, a triumph ranking among the greatest achievements in medical history.

Even after smallpox eradication and the decision to halt the routine vaccination of civilians, laboratory stocks of the variola virus remained. During the 1980s, Soviet leaders cynically exploited the world's new vulnerability to smallpox by mass-producing the virus as a strategic weapon. After a Soviet defector exposed this top-secret program in 1992, the potential military threat triggered a series of urgent debates over how to respond. In recent years, the possible return of smallpox has taken an even greater urgency with the realization that clandestine stocks of the virus may still exist. In Scourge, Tucker tells the fascinating history of smallpox and draws some important lessons for the future.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2900802139398
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
08/28/2002
Edition description:
First Grove Pess Edition
Pages:
320

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsvii
1Monster on Death Row1
2Smallpox and Civilization5
3Dr. Jenner's Vaccine23
4Launching the Crusade39
5Global Eradication61
6Long Road to Zero90
7Realm of the Final Inch119
8The Soviet Betrayal139
9Stay of Execution166
10Washington Reconsiders190
11Decision in Geneva209
12The Unfinished Conquest231
Source Notes253
Author Interviews273
Index275

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