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Sun Dec 20, 2020, 08:42 PM

This is still a hard and perilous moment, yet collaborative and concerted focus can change that.

A reminder as we head into the longest night of the year (in northern hemisphere) that this is still a hard and perilous moment - and yet that collaborative and concerted focus can change the world

D.A. Henderson, Doctor Who Helped End Smallpox Scourge, Dies at 87

By Donald G. McNeil Jr.
Aug. 21, 2016

Dr. Donald A. Henderson, a leader of one of mankindís greatest public health triumphs, the eradication of smallpox, died on Friday in Towson, Md. He was 87. ... Dr. Henderson, who lived in Baltimore, died in a hospice of complications of a hip fracture, including infection with antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus, a dangerous pathogen he had himself researched and raised alarms about, said his daughter, Leigh Henderson.


It is thought to have emerged from a rodent virus more than 10,000 years ago, and signs of it are found in the mummy of Pharaoh Ramses V of Egypt. Some terrified ancient civilizations worshiped it as a deity.

It carried off many European monarchs and buried the lines of succession to thrones from England to China. Because it killed 80 percent of the American Indians who caught it, it was a major factor in the European conquest of the New World. ... Three American presidents survived it: George Washington, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln. In the 20th century, before it was extinguished, it was blamed for at least 300 million deaths.

The victory over smallpox proved the power of vaccine. Before the 18th century, some peoples, especially in Asia Minor and West Africa, inoculated themselves by piercing their skin with pus from victims or inhaling dried pox scabs. Although that sometimes produced a full-blown lethal infection, it killed much less often than epidemics did.


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