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Angel of Death: The Story of Smallpox by Gareth Williams

By Gareth Williams

The tale of the increase and fall of smallpox, some of the most savage killers within the historical past of mankind, and the one ailment ever to be effectively exterminated (30 years in the past subsequent yr) by way of a public health and wellbeing crusade. Proceeds from the sale of this e-book will to to aid the Edward Jenner Museum in Berkeley, united kingdom (visit

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These countries had originally been infected from Europe and now regularly returned the compliment. The Caribbean Islands fed into busy sea-trade routes that converged on the ports of the eastern American seaboard and were just far enough away for new cases to reach ports such as Boston: well enough to go ashore and not yet showing a diagnostic rash but already highly infectious. The outcome was entirely predictable and the savage outbreak that hit Boston in 1721 figures in Chapter 5. Throughout its dominion, the Angel of Death could drop without warning on to anyone, irrespective of background, wealth or health.

Viruses turned out to be hugely diverse in shape and size. The first to be visualised by electron microscopy was the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) which causes unsightly yellow speckling of tobacco leaves and economic ruin for those who grow the weed for a living. TMV was found to be rod-shaped, with a surface covered in tiny, tightly-packed beads, rather like a stylised cob of corn. The electron microscopists soon built up a rogues’ gallery of human viruses. The adenoviruses that often produce cold-like respiratory symptoms turned out to be perfect 20-sided crystal-like particles with spikes sticking out of the corners, while various ‘small round viruses’ were isolated from cases of severe diarrhoea and rabies was found to be due to the sinister bullet-shaped rhabdovirus.

He had reported me dead to the Pasteur Institute in Algiers as he believed it impossible that I should survive such a severe confluent attack.

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