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"Hey, has anyone seen my Snapple I left it here OH MY GOD IT’S F—-ING SMALLPOX"

We found some forgotten variola (smallpox) at the FDA laboratories in Bethesda, Maryland! They were fully sealed and there’s no evidence of tampering, and are now located at the secure BSL-4 CDC laboratory in Atlanta, Georgia, where the rest of the US stockpile is located.

The last naturally-occurring Variola major case was in a Bangladeshi girl in 1975, and the last Variola minor case was in a hospital cook in Somalia, in 1977. Eradication was complete by early 1978, and was formally declared in 1980.

In late 1978, a medical photographer became infected by a smallpox sample kept at the University of Birmingham, and subsequently died from the disease. One other person also became infected, but survived. The researcher who was overseeing the photography operation was distraught and committed suicide soon after the photographer’s death. After this, the WHO strongly encouraged all countries to destroy their stockpiles of smallpox.

There was significant resistance to the recommendation and pressure by both Russia and the United States, and today there are two formally declared laboratories that have the live virus - the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia, and VECTOR in Koltsovo, Russia.

Having worked in several labs, there’s this fear of throwing things out that people might one day come back and need, or want to use again. Even samples that we can hardly identify, waaaaay back in the -80C freezers, get kept around unless we know what they are and who was using them and that they wish to destroy the sample or declare it unsuitable for future research. Stuff gets shoved to the back, and you don’t look at it for years or sometimes decades. There are some truly bizarre things to be found when cleaning old freezers…but hopefully I never come across something like this.

There are probably more smallpox samples out there, in former Soviet states, and in the US. Hopefully they’re all as well-sealed and safe as this one was.

Via The Mary Sue/@pourmecoffee

The Last Smallpox Patient on Earth

On December 9, 1979, the Global Commission for the Certification of Smallpox Eradication signed their names to the statement that “smallpox has been eradicated from the world.” 

It was the first time that a disease had been banished from the earth by the planning and action of the world’s public health professionals. And it became a model for later (ongoing) efforts to eradicate polio and several lesser known diseases.

The disease only spread from human to human, so there had been an unbroken chain of infection for more than three millennia. In the 1960s, before the eradication program, more than half a million people died every year from the disease.

But in country after country, vaccination and isolation programs lowered rates of infection until the numbers dwindled to one person who was infected, the last patient.

Read more. [Image: World Health Organization]

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QUARANTINE!

Though often used as a synonym of “isolation" (where sick people are kept from well people), quarantine is technically defined as “to separate those suspected of exposure to an illness to see if they become ill” - hence the quarantine laws for livestock and pets when moving between countries, especially countries where rabies or hoof-and-mouth disease isn’t endemic.

These signs were posted on houses and farms that had a patient (and, as such, exposed family or herd members) infected with, from top to bottom, hoof-and-mouth disease, scarlet fever, diphtheria, smallpox, and poliomyelitis.

[Quaraintine]

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North Brother Island - Unused until 1885, Riverside Hospital was moved to North Brother Island from Blackwell’s Island (now Roosevelt Island which you can read about here). Riverside Hospital was founded in the 1850’s and used to treat and isolate victims of Smallpox and eventually other quarantinable diseases. North Brother Island was chosen as it was a place able to be segregated from society. This is the island that Typhoid Mary was confined to for over 20 years until she died in 1938. Riverside Hospital closed shortly after this. After World War II the island was used as housing for war veterans and their families who were students at local colleges, but only for a short time as the island was then abandoned shortly after. After this, in the 1950’s a facility opened on the island to treat adolescent drug addicts. The center for treatment offered rehabilitation and education to young drug offenders. Heroin addicts were confined to the island and locked in their room until they were clean. Many of the offenders believed they were being held against their will. By the 1960’s staff corruption and patient recidivism forced the center to shut down. Again it was abandoned and left in solitude.

More Here ———-> http://www.abandonedplaygrounds.com/the-abandoned-north-brother-island-and-riverside-hospital-in-new-york/

Watch on historical-nonfiction.tumblr.com

A quick history of smallpox — and its defeat.

Two Children - One Vaccinated, one Unvaccinated

"Two children in the Municipal Hospital, one unvaccinated
and the other vaccinated on the day of admission - the crust is still
seen upon the leg. This child remained in the hospital with its mother
(who was suffering from small - pox) for three weeks, and was discharged
perfectly well. The unvaccinated child admitted with smallpox died.”

Top: Cow-milker infected from the teats of a cow with natural cow-pox. Large depressed vesicle with a small central crust, tumid (swollen) margin, surrounded by well-marked areola and considerable surrounding induration (hardness associated with swelling)

Bottom: Same case, one week later. Reddish brown crust typical of recovering cow-pox cases, on a reddened elevated and indurated base.

Many mammalian species have members of the Orthopoxviridae that are specialized to exist within their systems - humans have smallpox, cows have cowpox, monkeys have monkeypox, and so on (note: chicken pox is NOT a member of this group - its name comes from an old English word meaning “Itchy”, and is completely unrelated).

However, sometimes, the similar viruses can cross species barriers, as in the case of cowpox. Though the viruses are specialized to their host species enough that they don’t easily spread between atypical hosts, they’re related enough that once an individual is infected with one pox virus, their immune system is able to to recognize and fend off the whole lot of them. This is why, with the assistance of cowpox (Vaccinia) cultures in administered vaccines (rather than all of humanity having to be in direct contact with cows…), smallpox was able to be eradicated in the wild.

A Text-Book of Bacteriology, including the Etiology and Prevention of Infectious Diseases. Edgar M. Crookshank, 1897.

A government scientist cleaning out an old storage room at a research center near Washington made a startling discovery last week — decades-old vials of smallpox packed away and forgotten in a cardboard box. The six glass vials were intact and sealed, and scientists have yet to establish whether the virus is dead or alive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. Still, the find was disturbing because for decades after smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980, world health authorities said the only known samples left were safely stored in super-secure laboratories in Atlanta and in Russia. Officials said this is the first time in the U.S. that unaccounted-for smallpox has been discovered. At least one leading scientist raised the possibility that there are more such vials out there around the world.
— 

Forgotten Vials Of Smallpox Found In Storage Room

Well that’s reassuring.

Can’t a woman wreak a little havoc without there being a man involved?

New Virus Related To Smallpox Is Found In Republic Of Georgia

Two herdsmen in the country of Georgia have been infected with a brand-new virus, scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

The newly identified virus is a second cousin to smallpox. And, like smallpox, it causes painful blisters on the hands and arms‎. Other symptoms include a fever, swollen lymph nodes and overall weakness, CDC scientists reported at a meeting in Atlanta.

"We consider this family of viruses very important because smallpox could be used as a bioterrorism agent," says disease detective Neil Vora, who led the team that made the discovery.

The virus doesn’t yet have a name, Vora says, because so little is known about it.

We haven’t found any evidence of human-to-human transmission, so far,” Vora tells Shots. “But how many people are getting sick? Are animals getting sick? We don’t know … We don’t know if it has caused any deaths.”

Both of the men who caught the virus fully recovered. But related viruses, such as cowpox, can be deadly for people with suppressed immune systems. And smallpox had a fatality rate of about 30 percent before the illness was eradicated in 1980.

Continue reading.

Photo: Disease detective Neil Vora of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looks for the new smallpox-like virus in Georgian cattle. (Darin Caroll/CDC)

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