Smallpox: A Contagious Disease

Wednesday, February 23, 2022 4:59:46 AM

Smallpox: A Contagious Disease

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Learning from smallpox: How to eradicate a disease - Julie Garon and Walter A. Orenstein

Infectious diseases can be spread in a variety of ways. Some infectious diseases spread in more than one way. Major ways include:. There are many types of discharges. They include secretions, such as saliva, and body fluids , such blood, urine, and semen. Another type of discharge is respiratory droplets. These are expelled when a person coughs and sneezes, and often when they talk, laugh, or just breathe. These droplets are sometimes referred to as aerosols. A blood-borne pathogen, such as HIV and some types of hepatitis , is transmitted by the blood or other body fluids.

A food-borne illness, such as salmonella , is transmitted by food. An airborne disease, like tuberculosis , is spread through the air; airborne is especially used to describe diseases spread by germs that can survive in the air for hours. However, in early July , a growing body of scientists were urging public health officials to consider the transmission of COVID as airborne and revise their health and safety recommendations. Sometimes waterborne is used to refer to diseases like cholera , which can spread through contaminated water. Malaria transmitted by mosquitos is an insect-borne disease, and Lyme disease is tick-borne.

Sexually transmitted diseases STDs —also called venereal diseases —are transmitted through sexual contact. Blood and other body fluids are often the vehicle through which STDs spread. A note on the word vector , which often comes up in the context of infectious diseases. A vector can refer to an insect or other organism that transmits a pathogenic fungus, virus, bacterium, and so on. In the case of malaria, the mosquito is the vector. Recap time. Communicable diseases are infectious diseases. Some key points: this transmission is typically very easy and results from close, casual contact. Like malaria, it has to enter your bloodstream, such as by getting cut by a rusty nail, where the tetanus-causing bacteria can breed.

Food poisoning is an infectious , if short-lived acute , not chronic , disease. In everyday settings, the distinction between contagious and infectious often breaks down. We use the terms figuratively , too. Contagious laughter might spread across a classroom after the class clown cracks a perfectly timed joke. Or, low morale might be said to be contagious in an office after layoffs have been announced. Infectious , in its metaphorical sense, tends to have a positive connotation. Contagious can be positive or negative, though it might skew toward the latter. Calling a disease contagious highlights the fact that it is very easily spread by being around people and public places—in our very normal life circumstances.

Word of the Day. Meanings Meanings. What is the difference between communicable vs. The World Health Organization WHO identifies four main types of noncommunicable diseases : cancer cardiovascular diseases e. A major disadvantage of the practice was that variolated people could pass on severe smallpox to others. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu is credited with introducing variolation to Britain in Severely pockmarked herself after surviving the illness, she learnt about variolation in Constantinople, where her husband was the British Ambassador.

She had her children inoculated and persuaded the Princess of Wales to do the same. He inserted pus extracted from a cowpox pustule on the hand of a milkmaid, into an incision on the arm of an eight-year-old boy, James Phipps. Jenner was testing his theory, drawn from the folklore of the countryside, that milkmaids who suffered the mild disease of cowpox never contracted smallpox. Jenner proved conclusively that contracting cowpox provided immunity against smallpox as well. He was quick to realise the enormous potential of vaccination. In he wrote 'It now becomes too manifest to admit of controversy, that the annihilation of the Small Pox, the most dreadful scourge of the human species, must be the final result of this practice.

In the World Health Assembly passed a resolution to undertake the global eradication of smallpox. The goal of eradication made sense to the developed countries in Europe and North America. Although vaccination had largely wiped out the disease from these areas, they all continued to suffer outbreaks of smallpox caused by imports from developing countries where the disease was endemic. There were a number of outbreaks that demonstrated how a few smallpox cases could spark mass panic and large-scale disruption. In a Mexican businessman, unaware he was incubating smallpox, travelled by bus to New York.

Worried that a smallpox epidemic would spiral out of control in the densely populated city, the health authorities decided to act pre-emptively and mass vaccinate New Yorkers. Over six million people were vaccinated within a month at hundreds of vaccination stations in hospitals, firehouses, and police stations. In all, 12 people caught smallpox and two of them, including the Mexican, died. Ironically six people also died from adverse reactions to the vaccine. Twenty-five people contracted smallpox, and six of them died, including a nine-month-old baby. As the epidemic grew, so did the public clamour for vaccination, and , people were eventually vaccinated in South Wales.

One of the last major European outbreaks was in Yugoslavia in Smallpox was not diagnosed until the epidemic was well under way, and Tito's Communist government took draconian measures to bring the outbreak under control. Despite this, there were still cases and 35 deaths. A Muslim pilgrim had returned from Mecca to his village in Kosovo via Iraq, where there were cases of smallpox, and spread the disease to friends and relatives. A man called Ljatif Muzza in nearby Djakovica also became infected. Muzza fell ill and because of the seriousness of his condition was treated in a series of hospitals, ending up in Belgrade on 10th March.

Nurse Dusanka Stupar was on duty that night with her colleague Dusica Spasic. Muzza had been misdiagnosed as suffering from a bad reaction to penicillin. In fact he had contracted the most virulent and highly contagious form of smallpox - hemorrhagic - in which the patient bleeds to death before developing pustules. He died later that night. It was a place of waiting for life or death The morning after Muzza's death Dusanka came down with measles and was forced to take a few weeks off work. During her absence the first smallpox cases appeared in Belgrade. Incredibly Muzza infected 38 people, eight of whom died.

The first Dusanka knew about the epidemic was when health officials turned up at her home on 23rd March to take her in to quarantine. A few days later she discovered that her friend, Dusica, had already died of the disease. Enforced mass quarantine was instigated to stop the virus in its tracks. Dusanka recorded her experience of it in a diary. She was kept in a hotel guarded by armed police. It was 'a place of waiting for life or death Dr Suvakovic, who had seen smallpox in India, was part of a special team sent to Kosovo from Belgrade to deal with the epidemic.

He was shocked when he reached the smallpox hospital in Dakovica. Having never encountered smallpox before, the terrified doctors had abandoned their patients. Dr Birtasevic, an army medical doctor, remembers the strict measures taken to prevent the epidemic spreading outside Kosovo. Public events, meetings and weddings were forbidden. He and his team vaccinated throughout the region. It was very exhausting; there were no breaks, no Sundays or public holidays. It was fear of these kinds of epidemics that encouraged developed countries to fund the smallpox eradication campaign. Seven years after it had been proposed the campaign began in earnest in with the appointment of DA Henderson. Although mass vaccination calmed fears, it was not always the most medically efficient way to combat the disease.

Henderson and his team developed a strategy of containment and surveillance. Every time there was an outbreak, a WHO team would arrive, vaccinate and isolate those who were ill and trace and vaccinate all their contacts. Effectively they ring-fenced the disease until it had no way of moving on to its next victim. The eradication teams also actively hunted down the disease, travelling with a 'recognition card' showing a baby with smallpox, to explain to people what the illness looked like.

Rewards were offered to encourage reporting of cases. The last natural case of smallpox was in Somalia in October Ali Maow Maalin, a year-old hospital cook in Merca, had never been successfully vaccinated.

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