Talk:Smallpox/Archive 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search


Unnecessary text at top

I feel that the entire blob on the top of the page is unnessary and should be removed -- 01:56, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Is this concern still valid? The 'top blob' seems reasonable to me. 02:14, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Nice article!

I don't know who wrote this but I hope he or she sticks around! A very nice concise article! --LMS

Camelpox and immunity to smallpox

Am I crazy, or is it true that living with camelpox infected camels somehow transfers an immunity to smallpox to humans? -- zuzu

Smallpox and Native American mortality

Concise, but not entirely helpful. I think that 90% is an extreme estimate for a new encyclopedia looking to develop a reputation for accuracy. I don't want to revise the article myself (New World, demography, disease -- none of these are my field), but I did a quick google search and came up with these links. --- helpful, and notice the chart labelled "contending views": ---- a LOOONG article which ends up deciding that the revisionists (the "yes, there was smallpox, but FEW died") are wrong, but that the over-50-percenters are wrong, too.

I am not a revisionist, I certainly understand that new European and African diseases ravaged the Americas, but please! A 90% death rate doesn't happen even with Ebola!


We are not here claiming that one singular disease or epidemic carried off 90% of the Native Americans. But if one epidemic could kill half or even say only a quarter, it is easy to see how frequent epidemics over 300-400 years could reduce the vulnerable population. Several other diseases were also involved, as measles, however smallpox was probably the major one.

Also the initial 1976 Ebola epidemic had a fatality rate of 93% although subsequent rates have been lower and the most recent outbreak set a record low of only 43% dead! -rmhermen

"Smallpox was largely responsible for the death of perhaps 90% of the native population" That looks like one singular disease killing them. We need to sort out 'infection rate' and 'fatality rate', too. MichaelTinkler.yeppers

Picture of smallpox victim

I believe the picture distracts from the text and should be put on a separate page. Any objections? --Eloquence 10:35 Oct 31, 2002 (UTC)

It is disturbing, but it is appropriate that it be so. Tannin 05:50 Dec 24, 2002 (UTC)
Why so, at this time? Hephaestos 05:57 Dec 24, 2002 (UTC)
I think the picture is informative and should stay, but a bit smaller would be nice. AxelBoldt 00:29 Jan 3, 2003 (UTC)
I too think the picture should stay, but a source should be attributed to it so that we know that a copyright violation is not occurring. Courtland 21:01, 2005 Mar 2 (UTC)

Deletion of contradictory statement: # of dead

Removed this:

An estimated 500,000,000 victims died of smallpox in the 20th century.

as it appears to contradict the figure of 2,000,000 per year given in the first paragraph. Somebody needs to verify. AxelBoldt 03:48 Dec 24, 2002 (UTC)

I've seen estimates of 300-500 million dead in the 20th century, but I'll have to check to see if I can find a citable source. The 2 million dead figure mentioned in the first paragraph should probably read "In 1967 smallpox caused about two million deaths", rather than "In the early years of the 20th century". The disease caused no deaths from 1978-2000. So the 20th century in question would be about 77 years long (1978 - 1901), with many more dying in the early years than in the latter. (There were 50 million CASES in 1950, and 10-15 million in 1967, and the DEATH rate would also be higher.) It's the difficulty of estimating the death rate in the EARLY years of the 20th century that make the figures inexact. One place to check for figures would be "Smallpox: A History of Its Rise and Fall", Radetsky M, Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 1999 Feb;18(2):85-93.-- Someone else 04:54 Dec 24, 2002 (UTC)

On the "90% of the native population" thing, as I understand it, the current generally accepted view is that 80 to 90% of the population were killed off (by one means or another), and that of that 80-90%, 80 or 90% of the deaths were from infectious diseases. Smallpox was, I gather, a very significant killer, but far from the only one. Here in Australia, where the history is very similar, I have not seen figures for the breakdown between different diseases (and in fact it is almost certainly impossible to do more than have a wild guess at the proportions, as the evidence is probably just not there anymore), but there seem to have been several major killers. From memory, amd not in any particular order, these were smallpox, influenza, chickenpox, and ... was it typhoid? Cholera? I'll try to look it up. Quite a few others played more minor roles. It seems unlikely that the overall pattern would be terribly different: populations where the particular killers are known (remote islands in particular) seem to fall victim to the same broad set of diseases.

One should also excercise care with assigning responsibility for disease-caused deaths to the disease directly. Changed living conditions, loss of traditional lands and consequent malnutrition all weaken people to the point that a disease can carry them off: many may well have been able to survive infection if their general health was better. (None of this is to say that smallpox was not a dreadful killer, of course, just trying to get some perspective on it.) Tannin

Removing one "vaccination" method


Inoculation by rubbing fluid from smallpox sores into a scratch on an uninfected person reduced the severity of the disease.

This seems to be a somewhat dangerous method of vaccination... :-) AxelBoldt 00:29 Jan 3, 2003 (UTC)

Yep - that was the only method available until Jenner discovered the bit about milk maids. --mav


'Monkeypox' (which wiki has no article for) has crept into the US. It has spread from African rats to prairie dogs in American pet stores where a few individuals have been affected. I may have time to work on this, but as always, any contributions would be appreciated. Usedbook 12:52 9 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Inoculation method: alternative medicine? appropriate?

This looks like alternative medicine. Should it be in the article?

Smallpox is described in the Ayurveda books. Treatment was done by inoculation with year-old smallpox matter. The inoculators would travel all across India pricking the skin of the arm with a small metal instrument using "variolous matter" taken from pustules produced by the previous year's inoculations. The effectiveness of this system was confirmed by the British doctor J.Z. Holwell in an account to the College of Physicians in London in 1767.

My Google searches have turned up very little information on this, and what I have found seems somewhat unreliable. I have removed until I hear from someone a bit authoritative. -- Gustavf 09:27, 20 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Gustavf: It is not unreliable. See pages 71-72 of David Arnold, Science, Technology and Medicine in Colonial India, Cambridge University Press, 2000. I am therefore reinstating the paragraph. This was inoculation before Jenner. Here's another reference:

Here's from on inoculation against smallpox in India and other countries before Jenner:

in medicine, introduction of a preparation into the tissues or fluids of the body for the purpose of preventing or curing certain diseases. The preparation is usually a weakened culture of the agent causing the disease, as in vaccination against smallpox; however, it may also be composed of antitoxins , which provide immunity themselves, or toxoids , which are proteins that stimulate the body to produce antitoxins (see immunity ). Various forms of inoculation were used from ancient times in China, India, and Persia, but it remained for the English physician Edward Jenner in the late 18th cent. to demonstrate its feasibility to the Western world. The term inoculation is used also to refer to the introduction of certain substances into plant tissues or to the placement of microorganisms into culture media (for experimental or diagnostic purposes) or into the soil.

It is a qualitative difference. Jenner's innovation was to demonstrate that immunity could be induced articially, by using a different organism. Variolation/inoculation was electively catching Smallpox, under favourable conditions, selecting a strain believed to be weaker but still the wild disease. Midgley

History section

I am taking a whack at wikifying and copyediting the ==History== sec. It's well written but the contributor is obviously not completely comfortable writing in English. Needs review for factual accuracy too. Ellsworth 17:44, 16 May 2004 (UTC)

I wrote the history part of it. I am very sure that my information is at least 99% correct. You are entirely correct in saying that I am not too good at writing in english. And yes I am aware that that the section is typo filled.And yes you may fix it if you want.

Sorry, didn't mean to imply that it was not accurate, just that I have no knowledge of this topic, and I'm only trying to make the prose flow more smoothly. BTW you're very good in English, better than 90% of the commercial/international sites out there. Ellsworth 16:21, 18 May 2004 (UTC)

Smallpox in Europe

You write

The first recorded incidence of an epidemic is during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC) between Athens and Sparta.

But later

Smallpox didn’t enter Europe until 581 A.D

This seems to need clarification. Thue 11:42, 2 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Dr. Ludlow?

When he explained his idea to Dr. Ludlow, he was told that his ideas were foolish. Who is Dr. Ludlow? No attempt at explaination is made. --Bletch 02:21, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)

From the Jenner Museum (which is in his house an hour North of here) "At the age of 14 he was apprenticed for seven years to Mr Daniel Ludlow, a surgeon of Chipping Sodbury" A note on the British: in a sort of reverse snobbery doctors who go on to specialise in surgery and obtain the Fellowship of the ROyal College of Surgeons stop calling themselves Doctor and start being Mr or Miss. Weird, I know, but very historical. I'd also like to see some definite attribution to the chattier bits of that passage - "...ideas were foolish..." etc

The area of the country would then have had lots of cows and people milking them. Dr Jenner was clearly a smart chap, and associated with others like Lister and Humphrey Davy (who sort of invented Anaesthesia with Nitrous Oxide but got busy doing other things and didn't follow through; meanwhile Lister was inventing _not dying of surgery_), and I favour the view that he heard from other people that if you had had cowpox you didn't die of Smallpox.

I'd tend to assume that Mr Jesty of Worth Matravers (3 hours drive East) would have been as reliable as most of us, if I have a chance I'll go and look on his grave and in the Parish records, but don't hold your breath.

Some anti-vacination sites describe Jenner as a charlatan and apothecary and Mr jesty as ignorant - these are just efforts to devalue their rather clever work in thinking and acting, and it is quite clear from here that Jenner was a successful General Practitioner and surgeon, appointed to be a magistrate and practicing in purpose built premises some of the time, in favour with the Royal Society (whose proceedings are available on the Web now, I'll have a look for him in them) and while they probably would have not instantly accepted early work, I think it owuld have been sent back for more science rather than rejected.

From the publications he turned out he seems to have been a careful scientist, and in the company he was keeping I think there would have been notice taken if he was not.

Adrian Midgley, GP Exeter UK.

Smallpox. I need help for my high school project

Does any one know the earliest known case of smallpox was? Avd if it is completely gone from our planet? If anyone can answer these questions email me at: [] or [] thanks for you help.

Blessed Be, Alexandra

More work needed

All the text in the article following the table-of-contents box is rather poorly written. There are a bunch of niggling stylistic problems, but beyond that I think it should be rewritten. It reads too much like a high-school term paper, and is anything but succinct. I might get to this myself later, but in the meantime if anyone else is looking for a way to kill an hour, by all means assist. Jeeves 23:03, 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I agree completely. --Lee1026 00:37, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Royal Society Proceedings on Web

They have not got to the years relating to Jenner's work yet.

Peloponesian War - good, but maybe move to another page?

I don't have a strong view, and I'm not sure which way is wikkiest, but I think the diversion into the history of a campaign lost through the disease might do at least as well on its own - as a side bar, diversion or further layer of detail. Opinions?

Two contradictory accounts!

Why are there two contradictory accounts of the history of inoculation--one toward the top of the page, and another two-thirds of the way down--and which is correct?

The use of infected blankets by Lord Amherst is controversial and may be impossible.

New information as of March 2004. Please see:[details]

I am not an expert on this, but I don't see how Lord Amerst could have suspected that blankets from a smallpox ward would infect the Indians with smallpox. The date is 1763, but at that point, people believed in spontaneous generation of disease, or miasmas. Germ theory of disease wasn't developed until the mid-1800's, and even then, medical experts were very resistant to the idea that touch could spread disease, leading to a continuation of childbed fever by doctors who wouldn't wash their hands.

From what I have read on Internet, the idea that Amherst had this intent is controversial ( but there are reports of letters that very strongly indicate he did this fully intent on extermination ( ). I just don't see how he could have known this might work.

Both of those sources you cite make a strong case that Mr. Amherst intended to exterminate every man, woman and child. The germ theory of disease was a wives' tale believed by many long before Louis Pasteur constructed experiments to prove it and elevate to a theory. Zenyu 13:43, Feb 18, 2005 (UTC)

"On at least one occasion, germ warfare was used by the British Army under Jeffrey Amherst when smallpox-infected blankets were...." People keep putting the Amherst info back in. This time from a non-registered user on 3 March 2005. The story is recorded and reused in lots of sources, but also refuted in several. See Population history of American indigenous peoples for related discussion.

I restored this text 'was used by the British Army under Jeffrey Amherst when smallpox' on 2005 Mar 03. I don't have an opinion on the question; the text was deleted by the 2005 Feb 21 vandal, and the sentence was broken without it. Swmcd 03:50, 2005 Mar 4 (UTC)

Amherst infamously considered spreading smallpox to the surrounding forces. In a series of letters to his subordinate Henry Bouquet during the summer of 1764, Amherst discussed the idea of spreading smallpox to attacking forces via gifts of blankets that had been exposed to smallpox. This idea had already been tried a year previous: on 24 June 1763, infected blankets were given to the Delawares by the commander of Fort Pitt, perhaps on his own initiative. --from the Amherst article.

Maybe we should write a distinct article (included or related to Pontiac's Rebellion)or at least a paragraph discussing both pros and cons and break this cycle. Opinions? WBardwin 22:19, 3 Mar 2005 (UTC)

This issue has been discussed at length on a number of pages ----See: Talk:Population history of American indigenous peoples and the accompanying article. If we get around to writing an article about this very small event, the facts support the following: people thought about it, one lower level officer tried it, but the Amherst letter was after the fact. There is no evidence that any epidemic came from the incident. I'm moving the dispute notice here -- I'm sure it will end up on the front page again. Maybe the article will have to become a priority. WBardwin 00:44, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Vandalism 21st Feb 2005

The smallpox article was hit by a vandal on 21 Feb 2005. The vandalism was evidently generally undiscovered by subsequent users, including myself. However, I finally read all the way through it today and caught the problems. Rather than simply revert, as others had made additions, I printed a copy dated Feb 12th and blocked the information back in, with some copy editing. If you edited the article since that date, please look it over and make any appropriate changes. Thank you. WBardwin 05:51, 27 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Was the vandal responsible for the glaring inacuracies such as Abe Lincolns death from Smallpox in 1863? Instead of April 15 1865 by assasination? This article has many of these. Most college courses refuse to accept Wikipedia as a reference due to these types of inacuracies. Thought I would mention this.

Please note that the article says Lincoln had the disease (as did many of his generation) but recovered from it. Other issues/inaccuracies you noted? WBardwin 18:04, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

Copyedited History - Eurasia section

I copyedited the History - Eurasia section
- retitled Europe -> Eurasia, because it includes a paragraph on India
- changed from BC/AD to BCE/CE
- reorganized the paragraph on India
-- put the headline statements at the top
-- dropped some characterizations that looked like editorializing to me. If they can be supported by references, we should restore them and cite the references.

The Peloponnesian War--Maybe not Smallpox

If anyone has read The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, they know that this is where the description of the plague in ancient Athens was written down. Reading this account, you should notice that Thucydides describes the epidemic as not only affecting humans, but as also infecting and killing nearly all of the domestic and livestock animals in the city and some nearby areas. You should also notice that the Wikipedia smallpox page states (correctly) that smallpox is "unique to humans." So, if this is true, then it seems as if the epidemic in ancient Athens could not possibly have been smallpox. In fact, many of the symptoms, except for its ability to spread from person to person, sound more like symptoms of anthrax, which, by the way, is capable of infecting animals other than humans. Before I make any edits to the part of the smallpox page about the Athenian epidemic, I'd like to find out if anyone else here has further information or insights in this direction.

For centuries, historians considered this epidemic to have been caused by bubonic plague - and that is still the first choice for many scholars as it would account for the death of animals as well. Although anthrax is currently fashionable as a cause for historic plagues (see the arguments in bubonic and Black death), it doesn't have an effective person to person transmission and dies out once the animals do or the infected flesh is consumed. Thucydides' description of the rash and/or pustules leads many modern physicians to believe the epidemic was smallpox, with measles or a variety of scarlett fever coming in at second or third. I've even read one MD who thinks this is an account of Fifth Disease - a minor childhood illness today, but one that causes a significant number of miscarriages as it crosses the placental barrier.
Historic accounts of disease almost always lead to mysteries -- as they are generally from the viewpoint of one person, with secondary reports and rumours gathered from others. Sometimes the reporter is even displaced in time and/or place from the event. "Pay your money -- take your choice." Perhaps we should do a separate article on the P. Plague (--this idea is becoming a trend of mine. See the blanket controversy above.), with all possibilities explored. Thanks for your interest. WBardwin 23:44, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Add information on the Antonine Plague of the Roman Empire in 165-180?

The section on historical outbreaks needs to be much less definite. It's only a guess that the Athenian plague, or the Antonine plague, or the Indian plague, were smallpox. The documentary medical record just isn't detailed enough to make an accurate diagnosis at this distance. Some historians claim smallpox, others bubonic plague, measles, and other epidemic diseases. Or it may be a wholly unknown disease. So this article needs to be much more tentative. I will edit. Gdr 10:03, 2005 May 10 (UTC)

I recently read a work, produced prior to WWII, which preferred typhus as the cause of the Athen's plague. Will try and include that information in related articles and provide the reference. WBardwin 16:40, 19 July 2005 (UTC)
I believe I already commented on this in the Typhoid Fever page. Right now every article on a deadly, infectious disease appears to state that disease was the cause of this particular epidemic, even though there was clearly only one disease responsible. This kind of inconsistency from article to article makes the encyclopedia look bad. I believe that if the cause of the disease is is not known, this fact should be cited in the articles Plague of Athens and epidemic, and that references to the cause of this plague should be removed from the articles on each specific disease. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 03:08, 4 January 2007 (UTC).

Conservation Status

Would it be considered appropriate if I put "Conservation Status: Critical" ({{StatusCritical}}) in the infobox? It is a hated disease and all, but technically, it is a critically endangered species, and I think it should be listed for the sake of uniformity. -- Natalinasmpf 21:36, 12 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I see no reason not to list smallpox as endangered -- although it's a living species we are trying to exterminate. Might be a bit jarring for the average reader however. I say go ahead! WBardwin 05:59, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I think that's going a bit far, as if someone were trying to be funny but not quite getting there. "Endangered species" implies one that should be kept around (according to some anyway). You would also then need to list many other kinds of bacteria (some of which are genetically-engineered) and the extinction lists would also become huge, "for the sake of uniformity". Jeeves 07:20, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)
But if it wasn't meant to be kept around, why isn't it destroyed? The idea is that as a once successful species, it bears useful information (in its DNA and encoding and concepts of behaviour) - if those two labs have something wrong (like a power failure, or a fire, or a bomb), the information and concepts of the species dies forever. As for the other bacteria, yes in fact they should get conservation statuses (based on their relative presence), but it depends on how notable they are. -- Natalinasmpf 19:09, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)
"Critical" is not the appropriate categorization. If you need to categorize the smallpox virus, the appropriate category is "Extinct in the wild". The fact is, "conservation status" categorizations all begin with the implicit point of view that all species should be "conserved". Clearly smallpox is at least one species for which this point of view is not universally agreed to. I don't think adding the category would in any way enhance the article. - Nunh-huh 02:42, 20 September 2005 (UTC)

Forms of smallpox

Added more detail to the forms that smallpox may take (replacing the simplistic "route A" and "route B" description).

Too many links

This article has tooooo many links !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

--AllDefeater 03:00, 17 September 2005 (UTC)

maybe it should be mentioned somewhere, that the grid has found 44 smallpox treatment candidates.

Can you tell us more about this? It sounds mildly interesting. JFW | T@lk 22:54, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

Lady Wortley Montagu & innoculation

According to this article

"The process spread to Turkey, where an American doctor learned of it. He then told the Royal Society in England, where Lady Mary Wortley Montagu learned of it."

But according to the undergrad lecture I had on smallpox in 18th C England, yesterday, Lady Wortley learned of innoculation while in Turkey as wife of a British diplomat, and brought it to the attention of the Royal Society herself. This seems to agree with the wikipedia article on her. The unnamed American doctor isn't mentioned. Anyone got a reliable source for this?

My textbook (in Slovenian) has the same. That should be corrected (probably). --Eleassar my talk 14:36, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

Innoculation/variolation and arm-to-arm vaccination

Perhaps someone could explain the exact difference between variolation and arm to arm vaccination (75% of vaccination as late as 1890)? john 13:46, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

good review article --JWSchmidt 17:18, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

A lot on Jenner - who has a page

Jenner is worth a biography - for teh Cuckoo and being FRS if nothing else. WOuld it be reasonable to thin down the section on him here, moving it into his biog? Midgley 04:24, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

Modern Vaccination

IE the process and complication rate in say 1974.

Either here or in Vaccination a specific section on that may be useful. Midgley 04:24, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

Dr Thomas Mack's NEJM paper seems useful. stopping spread. He is against prophylactic immunisation on rational grounds and the figures look good. Midgley 23:13, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Royal Commission (source document access) UK government documents as images. Midgley 01:27, 24 February 2006 (UTC)


Is it just me or there is no mention of the actual origins of Smallpox?How it is believed to have first developed, how did it pass from domestic animals(cows I believe) to humans? I believe I read about it in Jared Diamond's "Guns Germs and Steel".Could be mentioned,even if uncertain and disputed.--Radufan 16:29, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Cows seem possible, but I'm not aware of any hard speculation that they were the last intermediate step, and I wonder if that is a conflation with Vaccinia - and the Cowpox virus which is of the same family (big complex poxviruses) but was used for immunisation against Smallpox by and after Jenner (and Benjamin Jesty of Yetminster.) There is a mention of when Smallpox was first noticed, and that is long enough ago that the only way to imporve on that would be to import a diagram of the cladistic relationship of Smallpox, Monkeypox and Camelpox from the Dept of Virology at Uni. Leicester or elsewhere and add an estimate of the evolutionary timescale for the sparation of those clades. Not a bad idea... Midgley 16:55, 26 February 2006 (UTC) sequencing Camelpox suggested in 2002 it is Variola's closest relative. THere has been some argument around the exact order of the clades but the 2004 paper: seems to have the same order in mind.
This is a good source, although one might argue a point or two:

The clade diagram I linked into a BMJ response has gone away - I think it was overtaken by the 2004 paper, and I can't finda new version. We may have to draw our own. Midgley 23:54, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

I have added th line about inoculation practiced in India in the Inoculation paragraph and also the reference to it.Bharatveer 04:34, 18 April 2006 (UTC)


This paragraph is written in a very haphazard manner. It needs to be rewritten .Bharatveer 03:58, 19 April 2006 (UTC) Added citation needed tag to the Eurasian Paragraph. I feel there should be a thorough rewriting of this article in toto Bharatveer 14:45, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Added one citation tag to the sentence containing "poorer countries such as Somalia and India " .? Any sources for showing similar poverty exists in India And Somalia Bharatveer 18:40, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Take out the examples. I expect one could find some evidence that the sub-continental countries and Somalia are less rich than England and the USA, but actually giving examples doesn't help that much. Midgley 18:46, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

I have taken out the examples. Bharatveer 03:30, 29 April 2006 (UTC)

DR.LARRY BRILLIANT says his WHO team "created a circle of immunity" around smallpox to eradicate it in India. How was this done exactly? What was the process?--Showmethedata 21:35, 21 October 2006 (UTC)

Why no mention of Dr. Campbell's research?

Dr. A.R. Campbell, M.D. concluded that smallpox was spread not by human contact, but by the common bedbug. The invention of washing machines and the general rise of personal hygene was the reason for the eradication of this disease, not innoculation. This amazing research at least deserves a mention on the page...let the reader get a balanced point of view.

Please sign comments with 4 tildes. Did anyone else think that? Midgley 20:06, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Transmission of Smallpox: Midgley 20:47, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Well our government also tells you 9-11 was carried out by 19 Arabs who were incompetent pilots. Also, the WHO involuntarily sterilized women in third world countries by telling them they were being vaccinated. Compare this guy's research with Jenner's. Jenner injected the cowpox into his son, who subsequently died. To my knowledge, Campbell's research has never been refuted. 07:44, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Falls apart when you consider that smallpox was wipped out in africa as well as the west.Geni 15:02, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Alexander the Great conquered much of the world, and subsequently died - all historic figures have died. I'll assume that the reference to jenner's son is something picked up and quoted, rather than a deliberate attempt to mislead. (One of Jenner's sons died of Tuberculosis, none of Smallpox, and not shortly after being vaccinated.) You did notice that the reformation site looks mad as a ferret didn't you? Not WP:RS at all. Midgley 15:07, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Mad as a ferrett! Good one. So Martin Luther and the other reformers were mad as ferrets for exposing the corruptions of the Catholic church? 16:26, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
That does not follow in the slightest, nor does Luther nailing a proclamation to the door mean that therefore GW Bush is president of Cabotia. Midgley 17:07, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Also falls apart unless you can find bedbugs in the Birmingham university virology lab. Midgley 15:22, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Not necessarily. We're looking for method of transmission, not the existence of a virus. Is anyone familiar with Dr. Campbell's research or anyone else that has really researched the transmission process? 16:26, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Jenner, Plotkin, Henderson. And rather a lot of other people. Have a look at the university of Leicester Virology dept, or even read the references of these articles. Midgley 16:58, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

"the WHO involuntarily sterilized women in third world countries by telling them they were being vaccinated."

Is there any liklihood of anything even remotely like a citation, such as the names of some of the countries, date, who said it, or for that matter, why gynaecologists spend so much time doing laparoscopic sterilisations if you can produce that effect with an injection? I realise this risks descending into a paranoid spin - but that particular bit of disinformation would be interesting to track to source. (Kano?) Apropos the other bit of conspiracy theory a commercial jet pilot of my peripheral acquaintance remarked on that - he said that it was the easiest piloting task possible - keep th target int eh centre of the windshield. That seems credible to me. Midgley 18:50, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

I have modified the sentence "After the battle, the Aztecs evidently looked on the invaders' bodies for riches and contracted the virus" to "After the battle, the Aztecs contracted the virus from the invaders' bodies".Bharatveer 10:10, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

The Aztecs

According to, it is not smallpox, but the hemorrhagic fever, that killed 20 million in South America when Cortèz Arrived. Here it's said the the Aztecs were familiar with smallpox, except it was called "zahuatl"[1]

Smallpox and BCE/BC

Re: Kizor's recent edit. So, what exactly is the reasoning for the change? Wiki accepts both styles, and allows the editors of each article to establish the standard and enforce it. Most academic articles dealing with the history of disease, and with history itself, use the BCE/CE standard, and that is what this article has used for some time. Religious content should not, in my mind, be the sole criteria for choosing the common era standard. I am posting this note on the article's talk page for discussion and a possible poll. Best wishes. WBardwin 04:35, 27 May 2006 (UTC)


Poll: Should the article be returned to BCE/CE dating style, and retain that style as the article standard?

  • Agree - WBardwin 04:35, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Agree .Bharatveer 05:49, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Eh, go right ahead. I saw no standard, and was (am) under the impression that BC/AD is prominent. --Kizor 17:57, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
  • It should give dates as the number of seconds from (after/before) the Unix epoch. Oh all right, lets leave religion out of it and go with BCE/CE Midgley 21:55, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

A biased article?

Is this article biased? It glosses over hundreds of negative experiences with the smallpox vaccine, dissenting doctors (past and present)etc. Jenners story ommits many facts and shows him in a more benign light than he perhaps deserves. readers should not rely solely on this article for info on smallpox but should search wider on the internet.Timmymallet

This article is biased towards the consensus of the scientific/medical community, and that’s a good thing. (For those who would rather have something different, there’s still Usenet…)
By the way, if you are the same person as User:Freddiebear, please stick to one account. —xyzzyn 17:47, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

Then it is a good thing that wikipedia has not existed for the past 500 years or so or it would have promoted countless examples of established Medical orthodoxy that turned out, with the passing of time, to be nothing more than the erroneous beliefs of the majority. There was a time when the great majority of educated men laughed at the idea that animals could feel pain and that eating fruit could ward off scurvey. Further back in time, we see that sacrificing children to the Gods in order to ensure a good harvest is promoted by the wise majority. If seeking information on the history of Northern Ireland, it is probably best not to totally rely on either the IRA nor the British Government and should one side have more voices than the other then one would be foolish to conclude that the loudest voice is correct by virtue of it's greater numbers. The official version of the "eradication" of Smallpox via the Smallpox vaccine was disputed by a minority from the very beginning. Thankfully, one need not bother with Usenet...a few Google searches will provide a springboard for the curious/inquisitive. Sorry for this second account...I am not a regular user of Wikipedia and can not remember my password Timmymallet2

Was vs. Is

I'm wondering why the article says that "Smallpox was a highly contagious viral disease..." and that it "...was caused by two viral variants..." Doesn't it still exist? The viruses are still around, right (even if they are kept in labs)? Shouldn't we refer to it in the present tense? For example, the CDC's website refers to smallbox in the present tense:

-- 13:36, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

  • You do have a point. Just because humans are all vaccinated against it now doesn't mean that it no longer exists. In fact a number of scientists speculate that it could break out again (I'm citing a Discovery Channel special here) in the form of a weapon or naturally. If no one objects, I'll change it (but of course, I'll give everyone several days to respond). Srose (talk) 13:39, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
The fact that humans are no longer vaccinated for the disease, at least in the United States, makes it a real threat for an accidental or intentional outbreak. WBardwin 17:26, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Lead section reorganized and condensed.

I edited the lead section to provide a more consise summary of the article. Almost no content was actually deleted, instead I moved much of the detailed text to other sections of the article. The lead section needs better sourcing.

In general, I feel that much of the text I relocated deserves a careful look to determine whether it should be included, and if so, how to best organize it. I'll continue to contribute as time allows.

dpotter 15:03, 5 December 2006 (UTC)


There seem to be contradictions within the article having to do with how contagious smallpox is, and also the mortality rates for the different types.Amity150 06:21, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

There has also been a little confusion over grammatical tenses. I've corrected "smallpox was…" to "smallpox is…" at the beginning, but there may be more instances. Even though smallpox has been eradicated in the wild, it still exists, and will likely continue to exist even when (or if) the publicly acknowledged stocks are destroyed. Ireneshusband 07:35, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

Links to Years

I would like to remove most of the links to years. They don't seem to me to add much value to the article. I agree with AllDefeater's comment that there are too many wiki links in the article and I find it harder to read. I will wait to make this change to see what the consensus is. You may want to check out Wikipedia's Manual of Style. JeremyBicha 00:35, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

Oh my :)

I am Norwegian and was looking up Vannkopper (Norwegian for ChickenPox) I wanted the English site for the same disease and lo and behold... I got SmallPox. SmallPox and ChickenPox are not the same. The link from Norwegian to English is unfortunately wrong :) Pretty fun if you do not suffer from the disease... :) The Latin word for the disease would give the right link :)

Hope this gets corrected :) —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 22:06, 17 December 2006 (UTC).


I'm removing the part in the Vaccine section that says "A recent study by the Center of Disease Control in Atlanta (CDC) has found that every 1 in a million people are carriers of smallpox and could infect many others with the disease." This statement makes no sense, doesn't list a source, and I was uanble to find the study mentioned. 02:24, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

Smallpox Blankets

There is no credible evidence for this, source was an article about modern use of smallpox as a weapon, not a historical source. So I deleted it.

The source is the Journal of the American Medical Association, which is a pretty credible source, in my opinion. And the quote specifically says, Smallpox was probably first used as a weapon during the French and Indian Wars (1754-1767). Soldiers distributed blankets that had been used by smallpox patients with the intent of initiating outbreaks among American Indians. I don't know how much more reliable you can get. Corvus cornixtalk 00:26, 13 February 2008 (UTC)
like i said in your talk page, it is a paper on modern use of smallpox as a weapon, they are making passing reference to that. Follow their source it is again the same thing (an un-cited reference in a 1945 paper on the benefits of vaccines).
JAMA is peer reviewed. Corvus cornixtalk 00:37, 13 February 2008 (UTC)
The section under biological warfare gives reference to the use of smallpox blankets. William Trent wrote in his diaries about the use of small pox blankets as a biological weapon. Various websources exist that provide citing references to the use of smallpox blankets as a historical, biological weapon. I think it is in some high school history textbooks as well. Legis Nuntius (talk) 18:39, 23 February 2008 (UTC)

Article needs reorganization

The section on "infection" includes a great deal of history. Infection should cover clinical descriptions of the diagnosis, progress and prognosis for the disease. The effect of smallpox on history is significant and should be included but in a separate coordinated and integrated section. The history section should be confined to the affect of smallpox on history rather than the history of the discovery of its treatment. The history of its treatment (innoculation and then vaccination) should be a separate, integrated and coordinated section.--Blue Tie 13:03, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

Dr. Jan Ingenhousz 1730 - 1799 14:36, 23 January 2007 (UTC)Dr. Jan Ingen Housz was born in Breda in the Netherlands in 1730: he came to England in 1764. In 1765 Ingen Housz was appointed Doctor at the London Foundling Hospital where he vaccinated all the children there. in the mid 1760s he became friends with Lord Shelburne (later Prime Minister of Britain), through Lord Shelburne he became a life long friend of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Lord Shelburne invited Ingen Housz and Franklin to stay at his country estate Bowood near Calne in Wiltshire.In 1767 he assisted Dr. Thomas Dimsdale in vaccinating over 600 people in Hertfordshire and prevented a mass outbreak of smallpox. In 1769 following a mass outbreak of smallpox in the Austrian Empire Ingen House became the court physician to the imperial family and personally vaccinated the emperor and empress. Ingen Housz travelled widely in Europe and eventually became part of the house hold of Lord Shelburne at Bowood where he was able to meet up again for a time with Benjamin Franklin. Ingen Housz died in 1799 and is buried in the church yard of St. Mary's Church' Calne, Wiltshire. In 1955 a tablet was erected in St. Mary's Parish Church in his memory. The service of dedication was attended by the ambassadors of Holland and Austria in his memory as the one person who had done the most to pioneer vaccination against smallpox.


  • The epidemiology behind the Plague of Athens is (and probably will remain) uncertain. Thus, including Pericles as a smallpox victim is not terribly supportable. -- MarcoTolo 22:50, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

Abraham Lincoln?

Didn't Abraham Lincoln get shot in the head? How can he be a victim of smallpox? or are you going to list all the known people that contracted the disease and got better? Vicco Lizcano 23:17, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

Changed "victims of smallpox" to "historical figures who contracted smallpox." Fullobeans (talk) 07:32, 20 March 2008 (UTC)


  1. What type of organism causes smallpox?
  2. What does the organism do to make someone sick?
  3. what part of the population does smallpox primarily affect?
  4. What is the disease's historical importance?

HELP ME!! I can't find the info anywhere else! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Well, I could just say "read the Smallpox article", since your questions are answered there, or "Go ask at the Help Desk , but I'm feeling extra-helpful tonight.
  1. Smallpox " a highly contagious viral disease unique to humans. It is caused by either of two virus variants named Variola major and Variola minor."
  2. "The initial or prodromal symptoms are essentially similar to other viral diseases such as influenza and the common cold—fevers, muscle pain, stomach aches, etc. The digestive tract is commonly involved, leading to vomiting. Most cases are prostrated. Smallpox virus preferentially attacks skin cells and by days 12–15, smallpox infection becomes obvious. The attack on skin cells causes the characteristic pimples associated with the disease. The pimples tend to erupt first in the mouth, then the arms and the hands, and later the rest of the body. At that point the pimples, called macules, should still be fairly small. This is the stage at which the victim is most contagious."
  3. Smallpox isn't particularly choosy about who it infects. As usual, those who are immunocompromised are at higher risk.
  4. Start with Smallpox#Eurasia.

-- MarcoTolo 01:18, 25 January 2007 (UTC)


Same as my edit summary:

Europe in 165 or 581? No subtleties can be obtained from footnote because there are none. Ufwuct 22:51, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
I'll add a ref (Hopkins, 1983). I think the confusion may lie in the definition of "Western Europe" (the purported 581 AD date). I would have included Italy in that category, but apparently the UN considers it to be in Southern Europe, reserving "Western" for countries north of the Alps and east of the Pyrenees. Or, perhaps the author of that section was just confused... <grin>. -- MarcoTolo 21:11, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
FWIW, I actually used the 2002 reprint of Hopkins, 1982. -- MarcoTolo 21:25, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Editing/Revision needed on 1754 small pox blankets note

Contemporary findings appear to make the actual "small pox blanket" incident rather unlikely. Also, you're quoting a source of source, the actual original note is from a 1945 book (quoted in the footnotes of the 1999 article currently listed.)

I haven't changed the article itself due to the controversial nature of the event, I leave that to registered users.

Dr. Thomas Dimsdale

I just read an article about how Dr. Thomas Dimsdale from England introduced inoculations for smallpox to Russia in 1768. Catherine the Great made him a baron for his work. Yet, I can find nothing about him throughout Wikipedia.

The publication was the March 24-30, 2007 edition of New Scientist. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Jayavarman1 (talkcontribs) 19:16, 23 April 2007 (UTC). peanuts

Dr.Thomas Dimsdale first set up practice in the town (Hertford, England) in 1734. He had a strong interest in the prevention of smallpox and in 1767 he published a book on the subject. In the following year he travelled to Russia, where he innoculated Catherine The Great, for which he was handsomely rewarded with a title and wealth. He died in 1800 at the age of 90. from web site [2]. Anyone have access to info on this fellow? WBardwin 00:23, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

Smallpox transmission

The article describes smallpox as "highly contagious," yet "less so than other infectious diseases." What, if anything, is this supposed to mean? My understanding is that smallpox is only moderately contagious, requiring reasonably prolonged face-to-face contact for transmission. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Robinfrost (talkcontribs) 13:34, 13 May 2007 (UTC).

Concur, that sentence at least jars and is uninformative. I don't have a handy measure of contagiousness, but one thing is I suppose that it is among the more contagious - by touch - diseases in the poxy stage, but less infectious - by walking into a room and breathing - than chickenpox in th prodromal stage. When I feel stronger I may attempt to repair that bit. Midgley 11:13, 8 August 2007 (UTC)

Variola major smallpox

Other than ordinary virus there is modified virus which occurs in previously vaccinated patients. The Hemorrhagic and the Flat virus are very rare and very severe according to the CDC. All four of these viruses are part of the Variola major virus.


Is there any reason the recent resurgence in Bangladesh, and its neighboring areas are left out of this article? --soum (0_o) 13:52, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

according to User:Klparrot's 1 June 2007 note on the article the Indian smallpox alert was false alarm. Klparrot provided this link [3] as a reference. Best wishes. WBardwin 01:41, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

Gauthier: Fear factor", MetroWest Daily News, October 21, 2004

That URL/site isn't there anymore!! awww =( somebody fix it!!

Link does not appear to exist at the Internet Archive.... -- MarcoTolo 22:14, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

List of "Species extinct in the wild"

This page has a category marker of "species extinct in the wild" this is utter stupidity, that list is of the IUCN, which only deals with Eukarya. I really can't find the category marker associated with this in the edit page. Could somebody please delete this maker because it is wrong! Thank you. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Snelleeddy (talkcontribs)

Fixed. -- MarcoTolo 20:30, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
I suspect we could find stupidity more utter than that, actually. Is it possible that the fault is in the list used or selected, which deals only with the Eukarya? As an example of a species deliberately made extinct Variola may be a good one. The Thylacine was said to be another, but the Yangtse river dolphin is unintentional and Cod will be against our intentions if it goes. Polio is another deliberate target...Midgley 11:17, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
I think that smallpox should be put on the "species extinct in the wild" thing. 18:12, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Transition to Eurasia

I have not edited in Wikipedia before but I feel that the transition from 2.1 Hemorrhagic smallpox to 2.2 Eurasia is abrupt and confusing. If they are both under the heading of Infection in the Contents outline then the heading of Eurasia seems even more out of place. Oxenmantim 02:02, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Smallpox in Fiction

The ring trilogy of horror novels feature smallpox as being the virus spread by the video tape that kills people in one week. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:11, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

The book Code Orange by Caroline B. Cooney features a teenage boy who finds two smallpox scabs in an envelope in an old medical textbook. He begins researching the disease for his school project, at the same time desperately trying to find out if, when he inhaled the smallpox scab dust, he contracted the virus. As a terrorist groups finds out about his situation, things go from bad to worse. —Preceding unsigned comment added by RiotMonday (talkcontribs) 17:38, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Eradication of Smallpox

The Soviet Union contribution to the world to ged rid of smallpox is a well known fact. Each year of eradication program USSR contribute more that twenty million bottles of vaccine a year. And also send out a lot of volunteer and equipments. Why this fact become untolerable to someone here. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:15, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

No facts are intolerable to Wikipedia, but they must be sourced and verifiable. If you have sources, we can craft suitable text for the article--—G716 <T·C> 12:10, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

I still don't understand how the virus can be considered eradicated or extinct as we never discovered the natural reservoir. I thought what we had actually accomplished was herd immunity. Still, the WHO says eradicated, so eradicated it will be. Can anyone comment pro or con? (Marianware (talk) 21:54, 28 October 2008 (UTC))

As far as we know there is no natural reservoir; unlike, say, plague (which has reservoirs among many rodents), smallpox only existed in humans. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tonyzbaraschuk (talkcontribs) 22:54, 13 January 2009 (UTC)

1982 serbian film link

I added a dissambiguation link to a film titled Variola Vera. Typing Variola vera in the search box brings a user to the disease page. A user that is interested in finding the movie would have to know to type in Vera in uppercase letters or to add (film) at the end. This just makes things easier for those looking for the movie even though most people typing in Variola vera will be looking for the disease article. I will reciprocate a link from the movie article. Is everyone OK with this? SWik78 18:39, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

New article: "Eradication of infectious diseases"

I created a new article, Eradication of infectious diseases, which could use a lot of work if anyone is interested. There is a small section on smallpox that could be significantly expanded. --Ginkgo100talk 17:59, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

In 1520 another group of Spanish came from Cuba and landed in Mexico. Among them was an African slave who had smallpox

I smell racism in this sentence —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:22, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

Really? I certainly don't. - Hayaku (talk) 02:16, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

Regardless, it's anecdotal until sourced. A quick googling brought up one reference to an infected slave and another to an infected soldier, but nothing usable. It's too minor a detail to leave in unsubstantiated, in my opinion, so I deleted it. Meanwhile, that whole section seems heavily anecdotal and filled with facts which would be interesting if they were, indeed, facts. I may try to source them on a rainy day (but wouldn't be heartbroken if somebody else did it first). Fullobeans (talk) 06:48, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Clarification on one point

Natural events also impeded the vaccination team’s efforts. The monsoon rains burst dams and dikes. The rain and flooding forced people to flee, once again allowing smallpox to spread. This outbreak took the team a whole year to stop.

There is no antecedent to this outbreak in the text. Can someone who knows what it refers to please add text to make it clear what outbreak is being referred to? I presume one in Indiana and Bangladesh, but that is not entirely clear since the previous paragraph also talks about Sudan. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Fenevad (talkcontribs) 15:15, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

John Adams

Removed a section of John Adams trivia from the "Famous sufferers and survivors" section. Adams and his immediately family were all (at different times) inoculated against smallpox and suffered the effects of inoculation to varying degrees, but none suffered or died as a result of a contracted infection. If anyone's interested, the Adams material could be reworked into the inoculation page as well as into the North American smallpox epidemic stub. Fullobeans (talk) 07:26, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Adams and his family would have been inoculated with a different strain of smallpox in order for it to work: variola minor. Jenner's vaccine would not be available publicly for another twenty or thirty years, so the method of inoculation suggested by Boylston and Mather would have been inoculation with variola minor. The trouble with this practice was that not everyone survived it: up to a third would have died and furthermore in 1770's America there would have been a few things working against them: 1) fewer trained physicians than in Europe available 2) lack of knowledge about pathogens at the time (Leeuvonhoek was just about the discover microorganisms under his microscope at this time) 3) Complete lack of understanding of how medicine for children and medicine for adults was different (children during this period were treated like miniature adults.) Adams's son Thomas in particular had a very nasty case of it because the doctor treated him like he would a grown man: a dangerous thing when you are only about six years old.

Perhaps a small subsection briefly discussing these practices would be wiser: technically, the Adams family DID suffer from smallpox.--Shadowkittie5460 (talk) 20:38, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

It may be splitting hairs, but my opinion on this is that if you shoot yourself in the foot to avoid the draft, then you're not a war casualty. You make a perfectly valid point, though, and if the general consensus is that the Adams family should be included, all I'd suggest is that the mention of them be in proportion to the rest of the article. A brief mention of the family's inoculation and resultant difficulties would be sufficient to direct interested parties to the John Adams, Abigail Adams, or Inoculation pages... except that they'll find no further information once they're there. This is an interesting and illuminating bit of biography, and it would be great if somebody who's knowledgeable on the topic could write a comprehensive and well-sourced summary of it for one of the aforementioned articles. Fullobeans (talk) 05:23, 17 April 2008 (UTC)
"Up to a third" (above) seems high for innoculation, more consistent with variola major. The point of innoculation was that the risk of death was notably less than of risking natural infection. There is at least one article about it nearby. Midgley (talk) 05:05, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

It is not wiped out. people keep it in biowarheads. Apollo81001 (talk) 20:08, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

Natural immunity

I've known a couple of people whose attempts at obtaining a vaccination that "took," failed. Their assumptions were that they had a natural immunity to smallpox. I've read some writers who contend there is no such thing as natural immunity, whereas others say that it does exist, but that it is rare. I'd be interested in seeing something with more weight behind this, one way or the other. Brian Pearson (talk) 01:32, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

There are numerous reasons for vaccine failure (i.e. lack of an appropriately elevated immune response), ranging from errors in administration to poor patient immune activation: That I am aware of, "having a natural immunity to X" is not one of them. (If you already have "immunity" to a particular pathogenic process, how would you know if a given vaccination "failed"?) In any case, if you have any reliable sources regarding this concept, I'd suggest the Vaccination page is probably a better place for such information to appear. -- MarcoTolo (talk) 02:27, 12 October 2008 (UTC)
I wonder if transgenerational epigenetic changes could be a factor. Brian Pearson (talk) 00:11, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
Probably - though given how much we don't know about the process of immunological activation and maintenance, perhaps that's not so surprising. I'm certainly no expert in epigenetics, but it appears that conceptually-similar mechanisms have been described recently in plants (see here, for example). -- MarcoTolo (talk) 00:38, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

First sentence

shouldnt it be "Smallpox was a disease, unique to humans" since it no longer exists as a human disease? (talk) 06:45, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

Well, since it still exists in 2 laboratories in the world, this would mean that there is still the chance of the virus being reintroduced back to the human race. So to answer your question, it still exists, so a "was" wouldn't be applicable.--GundamMerc (talk) 21:43, 22 February 2009 (UTC) (talk) 21:36, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

The 1933 smallpox joke that keeps getting deleted

It should be perfectly obvious that my point is not to add a joke to the page. The point is: What is the context for the joke? Why is a hit Broadway play expecting thousands to laugh at a smallpox letter bomb gag in 1933? What is the real-life scenario or legal case that Noel Coward is wittily alluding to in his inimitable way in the oft-deleted joke? There is nothing currently in this article that provides any sort of context. Audiences were clearly not remembering back to the Revolutionary War. So what is the audience reacting to?

I asked the opinion of an eminent academic, born in 1932, who is cited quite a number of times in Wikipedia. He was startled by this, and had no idea what circumstances would have made this a funny joke when he was a boy. I told him the joke, and he guessed it dated from the past decade, since the anthrax attack, as anyone would.

So, what's the joke actually about then, eh?

Varlaam (talk) 07:53, 27 March 2009 (UTC) (in Toronto)

Ahhh, thank you for providing some clarification. The main issue is that there is no context for this joke, but just adding that the notion was current in the 1930s, and mentioning the film doesn't really solve the problem. It doesn't provide context and just reads like some random factoid. The article certainly needs a lot more general information on the use of smallpox as a biological warfare. I'd be happy to provide assistance if you are interested in doing so. Cheers --DO11.10 (talk) 19:56, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

Mistranslation in current article

"Kitab fi al-jadari wa-al-hasbah" should be translated (The Book of Smallpox and salmonelosis) rather than (The Book of Smallpox and Measles) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:45, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

No. It's Measles.--DO11.10 (talk) 22:22, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

Elizabeth I and smallpox

Hi. Can I ask what source you have which states that Elizabeth Tudor usd makeup to hide pockmarks. Several books I have state clearly that Elizabeth had no pockmarks on her face? Also a recent televised study Inside the Body of Henry VIII which aired several weeks ago in England examined documents pertaining to the health of the king and there is strong evidence that Henry VIII himself was a sufferer. Danny (talk) 22:03, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

Contemporary biological weapon

Preston, in his extensively researched nonfiction work "The Demon in the Freezer", reviews in some detail the world's known and suspected stocks of smallpox. Among other things, he discusses the fact that, post-"eradication", Russia's military acknowledged having accumulated many tons of smallpox, and also having converted long-range nuclear missile warheads to smallpox warheads. He sees reason to believe that Russia hasn't reduced its stock of smallpox, and may have even increased it in post-Soviet years.

Preston also states that Russian scientists acknowledge that some twenty tons of Russian genetically altered "supervirus" smallpox are now unaccounted for. Some of these same researchers believe that the missing superpox may have gone to North Korea, Iraq, and Iran. Preston's position is that it's virtually certain that rogue states y/o terrorist organizations are seeking, have obtained, or will obtain sufficient (perhaps genetically engineered) smallpox to launch an attack.

Though I'm not an authority on smallpox, Preston's conclusions would indicate that smallpox has not been eradicated at all--it's just in a human-assisted dormancy. In fact, one might argue that there is now more smallpox on earth than there has ever been, and that smallpox is now more dangerous than ever.

I believe that the current genuine potential for smallpox as a biological warfare agent should be part of almost any conversation about smallpox (especially discussions that posit or assume smallpox's eradication), and I'd like to see this article expanded to include it. If I had sufficient knowledge and expertise, I'd write that section myself. Instead, I've written this short bit as the first step in adding accurate content about the current status of smallpox.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

It is important to remember that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia and we must report on the facts, not opinions. While I am sure that Preston extensively researched his book, I don't feel that his book is, in itself, a reliable source for this material. (Much the same way Wikipedia is not, in itself, a reliable source.) Thus, addition of this type of material would require numerous, reliable, primary or secondary sources that directly support the facts. I'm not sure how prevalent or accessible these sources are, but the skeptic in me thinks "not very".--DO11.10 (talk) 17:39, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
Ken Alibek, former head of the USSR's bioweapons program has written a book about his research career detailing, among other things, many of the claims that Preston makes in "The Demon In the Freezer." In the book, titled "Biohazard," Alibek confirms the development of a GM strain of Smallpox called "India-1" and the mass production of smallpox virus for use in warheads. This would seem to constitute a reliable primary source on the topic. --Killfile —Preceding unsigned comment added by Killfile (talkcontribs) 19:26, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

Just removed a sentence from the middle of the 'Transmission' section which announced, apropos of nothing, "as of lately the us military has been infecting the personel and using them as biological weapons". It was added by earlier today - might be worth keeping an eye out for other such edits. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:31, 3 September 2009 (UTC)


I think it would be a good idea to collapse or at least lower the picture, as it seeing it pop up like that might shock some people. (no really, this picture is nightmare fuel unleaded !) AllFactsPlease (talk) 00:06, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Ditto. While it might be accurate, and I'm a pretty tough guy, it's a horribly shocking image to just throw at someone. (talk) 19:49, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
While I don't really have a problem with this picture (it is quite accurate) perhaps you would like to suggest an alternate image from the group here.--DO11.10 (talk) 17:43, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

I totally agree with changing the image. I'm not exactly a sensible person, but I totally screamed when I saw it.. it's really scary, despite being accurate. Maybe an image with someone with a lighter infection would be more appropriate, especially given all kinds of people access wikipedia, not only medicine professionals. (talk) 14:59, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

This photo is as far as I know highly representative of a smallpox patient. I oppose changing it. --Kjetil_r 20:28, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

I'd change it to this one: It adequately represents the effects, and is a little less shocking. Thedarxide (talk) 21:07, 1 August 2009 (UTC)

Well, i was shocked too. i'm for lowering it at least after the introduction, showing something less disturbing or putting a schema —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:54, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

I got totally freaked when i saw this picture, and when my mum came in the room she gave a little groany noise, although it is accurate of how severe it is, can we change it!! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:49, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

Remove or put lower the bloody picture, it's freaking people out!! This is wikipedia, not (talk) 17:37, 16 October 2009 (UTC)Fallen Angel

I agree. At the end of the day, the purpose of an encyclopedia article is to inform people. If they're driven away by an image on the page, any benefit is lost. I came to this article as I know next to nothing about Smallpox, and thought it I'd increase my knowledge. Five seconds into the article and I'd already fast-scrolled down as I really don't like being shocked by images on websites. A microscope photo of the smallbox strain, for example, would suffice, is an image of an infected person really necessary to make the article complete? The article about murder doesn't have a shock photograph of a murder victim at the top, why should this be any different? (talk) 18:27, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

Lead claim

"To this day, smallpox is the only human infectious disease to have been completely eradicated." This sentence has a reference that is 8 years old! 'To this day' is a bit out of date. (talk) 13:11, 6 August 2009 (UTC)