Since man began living together in agricultural settlements some 12.000 years ago until modern times, a tiny virus only 302–350 nanometers by 244 to 270 nanometers in size has shaped and reshaped our history. An equal opportunity killer made of only a single strand of DNA, the Variola virus has murdered billions.
Now, as of January 2019, this plague of humankind has seemingly been eradicated thanks to a worldwide effort of vaccination. How did this tiny virus become man’s number one enemy, how did we tame it, and what lies in the future for this killer?
That’s what we shall examine together in this article.
The Disease Called Smallpox
Smallpox is a highly contagious, disfiguring and deadly disease that has no cure or treatment.
The disease is spread through droplets spread into the air by infected individuals as they cough, sneeze and speak. Dangerously, there are no symptoms after contraction of smallpox, during its incubation stage of ten to seventeen days. During this stage, a person can unwittingly infect hundreds of people perpetuating the problem.
After the end of the incubation stage, a person infected with smallpox will experience the sudden onset of flu-like symptoms including:
· Severe fatigue
· Severe back pain
Within a few days of the onset of symptoms, flat, red spots appear beginning on the face hand and forearms then spreading to the rest of the body. Then, within one or two days the spots become liquid filled blisters that later turns into a puss. After about eight days, scabs appear on the skin that after falling off leave deep and disfiguring scars.
Horrifyingly, the same process seen on the outside of the body is also occurring on the inside as the intestines, stomach and other internal organs are covered with the same type of lesions.
For many centuries, even with modern medicine, the exact way the variola virus kills was not well-understood. Then in January 2009, the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology (FASEB) released a news that a team of researchers working in a high containment lab at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA stating they had found the…