General, Research, Technology

Thousands of years ago, smallpox was not a fatal disease

Throughout the history of its existence, humanityfaced a huge number of dangerous diseases that caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Scientists sometimes took tens of years to stop their spread, but the discoveries made in these years are now helping us fight deadly new viruses much faster. It is important to note that at some points in time, the human race has struggled with viruses so terrible that they still remain poorly understood. One of these viruses are pathogens smallpox - a disease that previously killed 1.5million people. Now the disease has been defeated thanks to global vaccination in the middle of the 20th century, but how this disease evolved is still not completely clear to scientists. Recently, it was possible to reveal new details about the most dangerous virus on our planet thanks to the remains of the Vikings. It turned out that once upon a time the disease was not fatal.

You can learn about how people today are at risk of contracting smallpox in episode 7 of season 7 of the TV series "House"

Smallpox - one of the most dangerous viral diseases inhistory of mankind. The probability of death from contracting this disease reached 40%. After healing, scars remained on the bodies of almost all patients. In some cases, people have lost their sight.

Smallpox symptoms

Точной информации о том, когда и от кого люди contracted the smallpox virus, not yet. The most popular theory is that the fatal disease was transmitted to humans about 10,000 years ago. Camels are considered to be the original carriers of the Variola virus, which is the causative agent of the disease. In general, very many species of animals can get sick with smallpox, including the same camels, as well as cows, goats and pigs. The virus enters the organisms of people and animals by airborne droplets and through objects with which the infected person interacted. Overall, it is a highly contagious disease.

This is how medieval artists imagined camels

После попадания вируса вариола в организм, он may not disturb the person for about 12-14 days. However, after this period of time, the patient falls into a feverish state, suffers from severe headache, withdrawal pain in the lower back and nausea. In the first few days, the patient's body temperature rises, but then it subsides. The most terrible-looking stage begins, in which a purulent rash appears on the skin.

See also: List of viruses that can cause a pandemic

У ученых было предположение, что изначально оспа was not such a terrible disease, but over time it gained strength. Let's say a person first contracted smallpox about 10,000 years ago, but people have really suffered from it only for the last 1200 years. At the moment, smallpox can be cured with the help of antiviral drugs, but, fortunately, there is no need for this. The fact is that in the middle of the 20th century, almost the whole world received a vaccine from it, and an injection is given to almost all born children. However, the risk of infection is also quite low, because Variola virus strains have remained only in well-guarded laboratories in Russia and the United States. Some people are generally sure that there is no need to store them - it's easier to destroy them so that there is no accidental leakage.

Smallpox under a microscope

Smallpox development

According to the scientific publication Science, the fact thatthe smallpox virus was transmitted to humans about 10,000 years ago, but was weak - the truth is. Another proof of this was made by scientists from Denmark under the guidance of Professor Martin Sikora. In the course of scientific work, they studied the remains of 11 Vikings, which were found in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Russia and other countries. In the organisms of most of them, they really found traces of the smallpox virus, but how dangerous the disease was at that time, they do not know.

Viking remains help scientists study dangerous viruses

Many of the Vikings clearly did not die of illness,but there was definitely smallpox in their bloodstream. Based on this fact, the researchers concluded that thousands of years ago the disease was not dangerous for humans. Of course, a rash on the body and other unpleasant symptoms could well arise, but there were hardly as many deaths as several centuries ago. Indeed, according to statistics, even in the 20th century, smallpox killed about 300 million people around the world.

See also: 9th century Viking items were discovered in the glaciers of Norway

The last case of smallpox infection was recordedOctober 26, 1977 in the African country of Somalia. But the last death was recorded a little later, in 1978. Then a dangerous virus took the life of 40-year-old Janet Parker, who was a medical photographer. Yes, having such a profession, the risk of contracting dangerous diseases is clearly and very much increased.

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More information about smallpox and other dangerous viruses can beread in the material of my colleague Alexander Bogdanov. In it, he also spoke about the sensational swine flu, the Ebola virus and, of course, about the coronavirus. Enjoy reading!