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January 5, 1963


JAMA. 1963;183(1):54-55. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03700010094016

A disease that ravaged Ancient China and Egypt, claimed one out of every four inhabitants of Great Britain in the 17th century, that struck at the hearts of Mexico and South America, that was cruel and ruthless during the settlement of North America, and horrifying in the 1920's must be looked upon as a treacherous and relentless enemy. This is not merely a historical record of academic interest nor a fanciful warning because the infection lurks in the reservoirs of Asia, Africa, South America, and the Middle East. It is ever ready to spring into action; and, indeed, the capabilities were demonstrated during the sneak attack on New York in 1947, despite the maximum protection of vaccination for World War II and the stringent public health precautions utilized in demobilization. There was even deeper consternation when two cases of smallpox were discovered in 1955, one in 1957, and another in