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August 8, 2020
Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox by Jonathan B. Tucker

Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War by Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg, William J. Broad

Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World--Told from Inside by the Man Who Ran It by Ken Alibek

Discussion Boards on Chemical, Biological and Nuclear Weapons

The War Against Smallpox David W. Tschanz, MSPH, PhD

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The Final Assault

One by one countries fell to the vaccine. Like a cornered animal, smallpox fell back into oldest reservoirs. Smallpox made its last stands in Bangladesh, Somalia and Ethiopia, politically volatile countries teetering on the verge of chaos. In Bangladesh there was a presidential assassination. As the campaign drew to a climax, Somalia invaded the Ethiopian lowlands. At one point a helicopter with a vaccination team was held for ransom by a band of Somali rebels. While negotiation went on, the team vaccinated their captors.

The assault was inexorable and remorseless. Variola major was the first to fall. In early 1975, Rahima Banu, a three year old girl living in Bhola Island, Bangladesh developed smallpox. An intensive containment campaign was organized. She was the last case of smallpox's most virulent form.

From Asia, the attackers moved to the Horn of Africa. Smallpox was pushed to the brink of eradication. On October 26, 1977, ten months after WHO's self-imposed ten year deadline, a twenty-two year old hospital cook named Ali Maow Maalin developed a case of smallpox he had contracted from two men, both smallpox victims, he was helping to a nearby hospital. On November 19, he recovered from a relatively mild case of variola minor. Maalin's illness was the last occurrence of smallpox from a natural infection. EVER.

One Last Gasp

As the months passed by without any cases reported from anywhere, despite a planet-wide search and a $1000 reward, belief in the eradication of smallpox went from a high degree of confidence to virtual certainty. The Global Commission for the Certification of Smallpox Eradication was in the process of gathering the necessary documentation when smallpox made its last stand.

Janet Parker, a medical photographer in the anatomy department at the University of Birmingham medical school developed a fever on August 11th and a rash on August 15th. By September 11th she was dead. Her case was traced back to a smallpox laboratory in the same building as her studio and darkroom. Investigators concluded that the most likely cause was escape of the virus into the air, from the lab where it was kept. It is believed to have then drifted through the ventilation system into Parker's darkroom on the floor above.

Parker's father suffered a fatal heart attack while visiting her and her seventy year old mother came down with a mild case from which she recovered. Eight days after Parker's case was confirmed, Henry Bedson, the prominent virologist who had discovered variola intermedius and the laboratory's director, committed suicide. There were no other cases.

On December 9, 1979, the members of the Global Commission for the Certification of Smallpox Eradication signed a simple document attesting that smallpox had been eradicated from the face of the earth. It was the single most historic public health document ever written. For the first, and only time, mankind had, by his own efforts, freed himself from the scourge of a disease.

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Discussion Boards on Chemical, Biological and Nuclear Weapons

The Latest Comment On This Topic:
From: Yimmy 7/28/2014 7:48:00 PM
In 2004 mike_golf said the American Army in WWII became the largest volunteer army the world has ever seen.

This was in fact the British Indian Army of WWII.

Aimless comment of the night.....
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