When was smallpox discovered and by who?
Smallpox is thought to have originated in India or Egypt at least 3,000 years ago. The earliest evidence for the disease comes from the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses V, who died in 1157 B.C. His mummified remains show telltale pockmarks on his skin.
Smallpox facts. Smallpox is a contagious disease caused by the variola virus. Smallpox was the first disease to be eliminated from the world through public-health efforts and vaccination. Smallpox still poses a threat because existing laboratory strains may be used as biological weapons.
- Smallpox is thought to have originated in India or Egypt at least 3,000 years ago. The earliest evidence for the disease comes from the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses V, who died in 1157 B.C. His mummified remains show telltale pockmarks on his skin.
- The Variola virus, which is the most virulent member of Genus Orthopoxvirus, is the causative agent of smallpox. The Variola virus is a double-stranded DNA virus. It has two envelopes: the outer envelope is present only in the extracellular state.
- The smallpox vaccine helps the body develop immunity to smallpox. The vaccine is made from a virus called vaccinia which is a "pox"-type virus related to smallpox. The vaccine does not contain the smallpox virus and cannot give you smallpox.
- Edward Jenner is considered the founder of vaccinology in the West in 1796, after he inoculated a 13 year-old-boy with vaccinia virus (cowpox), and demonstrated immunity to smallpox. In 1798, the first smallpox vaccine was developed.
- Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek
In 1796 he inserted pus taken from Sarah Nelmes, a milkmaid with cowpox, into a cut made in the arm of a local boy, James Phipps. Several days later, Jenner exposed the boy to smallpox. He was found to be immune. Jenner called his new method 'vaccination' after the Latin word for cow (vacca).
- The vaccinia vaccine helps the body develop immunity against smallpox, a potentially deadly infection caused by the variola virus. The vaccine cannot cause smallpox infection. A health professional gives a small amount of vaccinia vaccine through several quick punctures on the upper arm with a two-pronged needle.
- Inoculation, a practice probably as old as the disease itself, is the injection of the variola virus taken from a pustule or scab of a smallpox sufferer into the superficial layers of the skin, commonly on the upper arm of the subject. Often inoculation was done "arm to arm" or less effectively "scab to arm"
- The first use of the term "vaccine" was created by Edward Jenner. The word is derived from the Latin vacca, meaning cow. A virus that mainly affects cows (Cowpox) was used in the first scientific demonstration that giving a person one virus could protect against a related and more deadly one.
Updated: 10th October 2018