By Gareth Williams
The tale of the increase and fall of smallpox, probably the most savage killers within the background of mankind, and the single affliction ever to be effectively exterminated (30 years in the past subsequent 12 months) via a public health and wellbeing crusade. Proceeds from the sale of this publication will to to aid the Edward Jenner Museum in Berkeley, united kingdom (visit www.jennermuseum.com).
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Extra resources for Angel of Death: The Story of Smallpox
One morning, the nurse said to me that she had expected to find me blind – but I could see all right. I had had my hair cut off when the pimples first showed and later my head was one mass of suppuration. I remember shouting out with the pain. I could not bear light or noise. All the openings of my body were filled with pus. My throat was especially painful and I could only whisper. I don’t remember other details except that the eruption on my body gradually extended to my feet. By that time the head, face and chest were developing a thick crust which was very itchy and difficult not to scratch.
It could be mistaken for chickenpox, measles, syphilis (nicknamed the ‘Great Deceiver’ because it mimicked so many other skin diseases) and other rarer eruptions. 45 Some of these missed cases were not isolated quickly enough and went on to cause fatal outbreaks. 46 Classically, smallpox was least dense on the trunk, favoured the backs rather than the fronts of the hands and arms, went through the same stage simultaneously across the whole body and was accompanied by severe general symptoms. According to the books, chickenpox did none of these things, but in real life, atypical cases of both diseases were not unusual.
20, p. 146, 1805 When people met smallpox, they had no idea how it would end: a lucky escape with a few pockmarks, the living hell of mutilating scarring and blindness, or death. And while the victim fought his or her solitary battle with the Angel of Death, their family and friends would be suffering their own agony, waiting in dread to see what would emerge from the sickroom. The following accounts give some insights into what it was like to have smallpox. Extracts from Macauley’s History of England,35 describing the final illness of Queen Mary II, wife of King William III of England.
Angel of Death: The Story of Smallpox by Gareth Williams