History : Jun-Jul 2015
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC HISTORY 11 empress Catherine the Great. However, variolation had a serious shortcoming: between one and three percent of those inoculated fell ill and died. This mortality rate explains why the procedure never became a fully established practice. Lady Montagu, who had done so much to fight smallpox, died of cancer in 1762. It was the year that Edward Jenner, the man who would strike the decisive blow to elimi- nate smallpox, turned 13. The Good Doctor Edward Jenner was born the son of a country vicar, in the English village of Berkeley, Gloucestershire. When he was five his mother died in childbirth; Smallpox, a disease defying borders SMALLPOX was one of the deadliest diseases in Europe during the period before the French Revolution. At one point some 80 percent of the total population were struck down with the standard strain of smallpox; a third of those infected died. Although hemorrhagic smallpox affected a much smaller proportion of the population, its mortality rate was nearly 100 percent. Since the inhabitants of Europe at the time were descendants of generations of people who had survived smallpox, the population there had a certain degree of immunity. However, when the dreaded pestilence was “exported” to areas that had never experienced it before, such as Siberia, the Pacific islands, or the Americas, entire communities were wiped out. With its capacity to spread, smallpox was one of the most devastating consequences of Europe’s colonial expansion.