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May 22/29, 2002

SmallpoxPox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82

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Copyright 2002 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2002American Medical Association

JAMA. 2002;287(20):2719-2720. doi:10.1001/jama.287.20.2719-JBK0522-4-1

The appearance of Pox Americana, with its felicitous play on the word "pax," is surely a most interesting literary coincidence, given the current heightened interest in a disease considered to have been eradicated for at least a generation. The author, a professor of history at George Washington University, details in eight chapters the dominant events in the first years of the new American nation, with a focus on the effects, always serious, often devastating, of several smallpox outbreaks. The important aspects of the disease of smallpox itself are presented, with attention to mechanisms of spread, personal and societal effects, and efforts at control. For this purpose, the author has consulted outstanding authorities, and the discussion well serves both laypersons and clinicians.

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