Smallpox The diSease that changed the world

Smallpox is not only one of the most deadly diseases but it was an enormous advantage for the Europeans and played a huge part on them conquering the Americas. The Europeans didn't even know they carried this advantage, the advantage that changed everything.

Smallpox is caused by a virus called variola. There is variola major (severe smallpox) and minor (mild smallpox). It is also an extremely contagious, airborne disease that was extremely deadly and if not deadly, leaving people scarred for life. 30% of smallpox victims die and many others are left horribly scarred or blinded.

Smallpox was so contagious that one infected person could launch a whole epidemic. Later in history (late 1700s and 1800s) they abondoned the victims until the virus was gone and they were no longer contagious, but since smallpox lasted for 2-3 weeks and it takes another 3-4 weeks for the scabs to fall off, so victims were sometimes left there for months.
The good news is, if you caught smallpox once, you can never get it again because your body is now immune to it!
A vaccine for smallpox wasn't invented until 1796 by a man named Edward Jenner. The vaccine, however, didn't always work and many of the people who got the vaccine still suffered from smallpox. In the late 19th century, doctors realized that Edward Jenner's vaccination didn't provide life long immunity, so they made a better vaccine and gave it to the patient more than once in their lives to assure life long immunity.
A baby suffering from smallpox

Smallpox was so deadly and harmful, it could easily be used as a war weapon and the Europeans did just that. They just didn't..... realize it.

Europeans were completely immune to smallpox by the time they went to conquer the Americas because they previously suffered from severe smallpox epidemics and grew immunity. This is an example of survival of the fittest.
Since Europeans carried the smallpox disease to the Americas, Americans weren't immune to it, so many died, but smallpox also made other diseases such as hermorrhagic smallpox and toxemia.

Smallpox also had a big impact on surplus and population. Smallpox's impact on population was enormous, because it was easily spread and could kill more than half of a civilization at times. Since there was massive decrease in population, they didn't have enough people to create a surplus. Of course, this was an advantage for the Europeans because they were immune and could have a lot of food and not be starving. The European population was growing while the American population was dicreasing rapidly.

The smallpox disease has since been eradicated, but, as you can see, used to be extremely contagious, disfiguring, and often deadly. The disease was eradicated world wide by 1980, but could still be caused. Some countries, such as Russia, have tubes filled with the variola virus and if they release them smallpox would come back in the world being just as deadly and scarring as before.

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