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Smallpox As A Weapon

Smallpox was discovered for the first time on earth between the fifth and the seventh century. It infected people in their middle ages. During the sixteenth centuries, the disease became more widespread and affected people mainly in Asia and Africa. It was first used as a state of war during the same time when Spain was in war with the Aztees and the Incas. Spain had had an encounter with smallpox before and thus had a vaccine for it. The Aztees and the Incas had no experience of smallpox and thus most of the people were wiped out by it. It is not that Spain used smallpox as a biological weapon but just took the advantage of their earlier experience with smallpox to win the war. After the sixteenth century, the World Health Organization set up a campaign to fight small pox. A vaccine was created and the pandemic was eradicated. By 1970,s there were not many cases of naturally occurring smallpox being reported. The situation was under control.

Is there a threat of smallpox being used as a weapon?

The reason as to why smallpox also known as variola is seen as a potential threat that can be used in war is because it is highly contagious. It is air-bone and can be transmitted from one person to another via bodily fluids and respiratory droplets. Its incubation period is also relatively short and is in the range of seven to fourteen days. Without vaccination or proper health care, smallpox can thus spread very fast and kill many people in a very short time. It also has got severe symptoms that make it hard for affected people to be productive in the event of war. The symptoms include backache, high body temperatures and headache. Smallpox was used in the French and India War in the years between 1754 and 1767. The British soldiers issued smallpox-infected blankets to American Indians.

No threat of Smallpox

Today it is quite difficult for smallpox to be used as a weapon. It poses a minimal threat since it was successfully eradicated by the WHO. Another obstacle is that scientists that would want to use smallpox as a weapon would need an exceptional knowledge of the virus. Many countries are also ready with smallpox vaccines that would be enough to cater for the population in their country in the event of an outbreak.

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