Smallpox greatest threat in bioterrorism attack
ROSES AND THORNS - Alejandro R. Roces () - October 27, 2001 - 12:00am
Before the war, it was very easy to know people who had survived smallpox. They were called bulutongos because their faces bore ugly scabs of the disease. Thanks to vaccination, the spread of the disease was controlled and by 1972, compulsory vaccination against smallpox ceased and in 1977 smallpox was thoroughly eliminated from the whole world.

Now there is an actual danger that smallpox may make a strong comeback. The bioterrorism war that has started with anthrax in the United States may be just a start. Smallpox is the most devastating of all infectious diseases and according to doctors who met at the Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, "its potential for devastation today is far greater than at any previous time in history."

The 1907 Hague Convention specifically said that "Hostilities must not be begun without previous and explicit warning in the form of a reasoned declaration of war, or of an ultimate embracing a conditional declaration." Since then, the United States experienced two undeclared wars — Pearl Harbor and the terrorists’ attack in the World Trade Center. This was followed by the ongoing spread of anthrax that may soon expand to other germ-spread diseases, the most fearful of which is smallpox.

Normally, smallpox was spread from person to person through saliva droplets by face-to-face contact. But if it is disseminated through aerosol release, it will be an entirely different problem. Smallpox was eradicated a quarter of a century ago, but they never discovered a treatment for smallpox. Vaccine was the best defense. Once persons caught the disease, 30 percent died, the rest survived with pockmarked faces.

Smallpox was used as a biological weapon in the past. British forces in North America distributed blankets that had been used by smallpox patients to Indians to spread the disease during the Indian wars in 1754 to 1767. Epidemics occurred killing half of all affected tribes.

In an article entitled Smallpox as a Biological Weapon, the American Medical Association said: "The deliberate reintroduction of smallpox as an epidemic disease would be an international crime of unprecedented proportion, but it is now regarded as a possibility."

Man is still man’s worst enemy. A disease of the soul is worse than a disease of the body.

AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION BIOLOGICAL WEAPON CIVILIAN BIODEFENSE STUDIES DISEASE HAGUE CONVENTION JOHN HOPKINS UNIVERSITY NORTH AMERICA PEARL HARBOR SMALLPOX UNITED STATES WORLD TRADE CENTER
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with