I’ve been on a conference, so I haven’t had time to write a new article this week. Instead, you get sloppy seconds this week. This article was previously published in On Dit (2006) as my first public article. Still carries on the series though. Oh, and happy birthday, Disease of the Week!
Smallpox is a now-eradicated disease that is caused by the variola virus. There are two main types of small pox: variola major, the typical case of smallpox that killed up to 30% of those infected with it; and variola minor, which was a less deadly, but rarer form, leading to deaths in around 1% of those infected. Two extremely rare forms also existed: haemorrhagic and flat smallpox, both of which are basically death sentences. Variola major is the primary focus of my story today.
Eradication through vaccination is possible, as the case of smallpox has shown (Photo by the American Federal Government via the Public Health Images Library (PHIL))
I find that the more we understand about the world, the less imaginative our names for diseases. Your stomach hurts? We can look at your blood work, X-ray your gut after a barium meal and, hey presto, you have appendicitis. LAME! Maybe you’ve got The Irritable Ghosts and what’s happening is that the ghosts that are inhabting your scrotum are banging on the roof because your lungs are too loud. Treatment is shutting up and dying prematurely. Let’s explore the names of other diseases.
My Latin dictionary is not only useful for DotW article photos, but also if I suddenly get transported into Ancient Rome (Picture taken by Thomas Tu)