December 1963

History of Smallpox and Its Prevention

Author Affiliations

From the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Am J Dis Child. 1963;106(6):597-609. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1963.02080050599011

Smallpox is an acute, communicable, viral disease characterized by severe constitutional symptoms and a single crop of skin lesions all proceeding at the same rate over a period of approximately three to ten days,4 through macular, papular, vesicular, and pustular stages. At the present time, vaccination is the chief means of control of the disease whereas, previously, inoculation (variolation) was the principle method of prevention. Vaccination has eradicated the disease from most areas, so that it is no longer the threat that it was formerly when it was endemic over much of the earth and often assumed epidemic and pandemic proportions. At that time, it had a morbidity rate of 25% 5 and a case fatality rate of 20% to 80%.

The purpose of this paper is to present a brief history of smallpox and to discuss its control, first by inoculation and then by vaccination. A brief biography

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