So, perhaps some of you have seen the discussions on whether or not the US should destroy its stores of the small pox vaccine. It was just decided that they'll avoid doing anything for another three years.
It got me to thinking... I had the smallpox vaccine as I was born before it was eradictated. The disease (well, variola major) killed 30-35% of people who were infected. That's a pretty serious disease---and a pretty serious mortality rate.
For those who object to vaccinations, if smallpox still existed.. with such a high mortality rate... would you vaccinate your child against the disease? I realize that many of the diseases we vaccinate against today do not have similar mortality rates, and that's part of people's objections to vaccinating against them. But even if you don't vax currently, would you consider it against something as deadly as smallpox? Note: the smallpox vaccine was a live vaccine, if that matters. Back in the 18th century, the Turkish method of variolation had about a 1 in 1000 mortality rate--much lower than the 30-35% mortality rate. I don't know what the death rate was from the "modern" vaccine, but I'm assuming it was no greater--most likely less. Even in the 20th century, there were 300 million deaths from smallpox.
Mom to DS(8), DS(6), DD(4), and DS(1). "Kids do as well as they can."
I couldn't answer that right now. I would have to do a lot more research into the actual vaccine.
Of interest is that fact that in the late 19th and early 20th century in areas that had compulsory small pox vaccination going on - they also had the most reported cases and highest cases of deaths from the disease. hmmmm
If the people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny." Thomas Jefferson.
Talk to any relative you have over the age of 40 and ask to see their upper arm; sometimes the vaccine was given on the upper thigh. The vaccine usually left a very large scar on the point of entry. If the vaccine does that going in, what other kind of damage does it do while cruising your bloodstream?
The scar is a pox scar. Getting a smallpox vaccine is quite simply being infected with vaccinia, another pox virus that is closely related to smallpox but typically very mild in humans. The infection usually remains limited to the area of injection, but it does cause a blister (such as would cover the body of a smallpox or monkeypox victim) and so does leave a pox scar.
Did you know that the US Military is still vaccinating troops against smallpox; some of them have spread the disease to family members and casual acquaintances.......http://www.cdc.gov/eid/content/17/4/730.htm
So if you want smallpox, stand next to someone who just got vaxed against it.
Doctors know that the smallpox inoculation was not without its dangers: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703858404576214482670405722.html
There has not been a case of smallpox in over thirty years. The infection that was being spread was vaccinia. Vaccinia is typically very minor and remains localized at the point of infection (and care is supposed to be taken to keep the blister covered and use good hygiene practices to help ensure that remains true), but it can be spread to other parts of the body or even to other people, such as happened there.
Yes, vaccinia infection can occasionally be serious or even, in very rare cases, deadly, especially to those with compromised immune systems. That is why smallpox vaccine was only given to those who worked with orthopox viruses in lab settings for a long time, and why it was so controversial when they started vaccinating the troops for it in the wake of 9/11 and the anthrax scares. It is questionably whether the risk of smallpox returning by means of biological warfare or whatever is high enough to justify the risk of the vaccine to troops and those close to them who they might infect, and it certainly would make no sense to actually vaccinate the general population at this time. But if smallpox actually did return and the threat of it was real instead of just theoretical, that would be a very different story indeed.
Yes, that's variolation. There were two strains of variola, variola major which killed a third of it's victims and variola minor which only killed 1 or 2%. Variolation with material from someone who had a mild case of smallpox generally meant it would be minor rather than major, and also using a very small amount of material could mean the initial infection was smaller giving the body's immune system a little more time to learn how to fight it before it took over. However, this process was not exactly a sure thing or all that scientific in measurements of virus amount, and just because someone was lucky enough to have a mild case did not absolutely mean they had the minor form of the disease. Variolation still killed 1 to 2 percent of those who had it done, and it actually spread smallpox in many cases.
As for why it took a hundred years, was there a concerted worldwide effort to seek out every case of smallpox in the world and stop the spread through quarantine of the ill and ring vaccination of everyone who may have been exposed at any point before the mid-20th century? How much had communication and transportation to find out about cases and reach them quickly improved by that time? It seems that once they sat down and decided to actually wipe out smallpox from the whole world at once, rather than just using the vaccine to protect individual populations, they did so fairly quickly.
OK, you made me feel very old. :) I'm 42...and I have a nice scar on the back of my upper arm... LOL
Still, I'll take that scar over a 30-35% death rate any day.
Same with polio. My Mom had polio as a kid. I'm very grateful that the polio and small pox vaccines exist. Small pox has already been
eradicated...and hopefully polio will be next.
Those are two diseases I don't with for anybody. Now...the need to vaccinate against chicken pox? Nah. Sorry.
Mom to DS(8), DS(6), DD(4), and DS(1). "Kids do as well as they can."
To each his own. I will take my chances with disease any day if this is preventative medicine.
As for the variola cases, do you honestly think that helps the people who were inadvertently infected with variola to know that they do not have smallpox?
As for quarantine, I have been informed on these forums that it is inhumane, so what am I to think now of your comment?
Um, if they were infected with variola, then they do have smallpox. Variola is smallpox. Last case over thirty years ago.
Once again, the infection spread by the vaccine is vaccinia. Vaccinia kills about one out of every million infected with it. Variola (smallpox) when it was last around, killed an average of about one out of every three people infected with it. Yes, I do think it would be rather reassuring to people infected with vaccinia to know that they do not have a disease which could kill as many as a third of them!
I am glad they increased vaccine stockpiles and made plans of how to cope with the reintroduction of smallpox through biological warfare - it is good to be prepared. I also, however, think they may have jumped the gun in actually vaccinating the troops - the 1 in a million rate of death is quite high when the disease is still just a theoretical risk, and add in the chances of passing vaccinia to others...
Yes, I remember the quarantine discussion. Your examples that upset people were leprosy (lifelong quarantine before there was a cure, which may have been somewhat warranted before there was a cure though leprosy was not very contagious, but historically the treatment of lepers and typical conditions of leper colonies were just brutal) and AIDS (also would be a life long quarantine when AIDS transmission is generally preventable through other means by people who know they have it, and, as far as I know, Cuba was the only place that ever tried to do this). There is a very big difference between a life long quarantine for a disease that is either rarely transmitted or for which there are other means of preventing transmission and a brief period of isolation for someone who is actually sick with a disease (or even just has been exposed to one) that is highly contagious through casual contact. Huge difference.
I would not vaccinate for smallpox if it were around. For a lot of reasons, but because it's not a reality at this point (and hopefully never), I haven't done enough research to be confident that I'd be accurate in everything I wrote here in explanation.
I imagine I'd have to research like crazy to convince my husband, though. I think a visit to a homeopath and perhaps a naturopath would help put his mind at ease.
Gosh, I can't really answer that without more information. I'd have to know a whole lot more about the vaccine's efficacy and safety. We'd vaccinate for rabies exposure, for instance, because even severe vaccine damage is preferable to certain death. Without more details about the specific smallpox vaccine and the severity of the outbreak, I can't say.
Loving wife and mama to my sweet little son (Fall 2008) and a beautiful baby girl (Fall 2010)
When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty. --George Bernard Shaw
Can I participate in the conversation, even tho I'm a selective vaxer?
For me, it would depend on the time period. Before the vaccine was standardized, probably not. It seems like back in the day for a while, any old animal with a pustule disease was considered a good candidate for using to make a "smallpox vaccine". Even vaccinia, the best of the vaccines there were to choose from, is kind of an orthopox frankenvirus (it's part buffalopox, iirc?) because of how bizarre vax-making was for so long.
Way back in the day, I definitely would rather have done something like this:
Towards the end of the eradication process when "ring vaccination" and isolation were used, I *definitely* would have used the vaccine as a post-exposure prophylaxis if possibly exposed. Whether or not I would have gotten it otherwise would depend on how much smallpox was around, maybe.