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Smallpox, or the "Red Plague" caused many deaths, and even blindness in its survivors. In 21st century America, almost nobody from my generation is vaccinated against it. I had to know why, and found this answer from the CDC:
"Thanks to the success of vaccination, the last natural outbreak of smallpox in the United States occurred in 1949. In 1980, the World Health Assembly declared smallpox eradicated (eliminated), and no cases of naturally occurring smallpox have happened since. " CDC.gov
How is it transmitted?
Smallpox is transmitted through the inhalation of the virus, face to face within a distance of 6 feet is enough transmission space. During the first week, it can be transmitted to others-but it's slow to take on because it requires closer contact than other diseases.
What does it look like?
The Outlander series by Diane Gabaldon frequently encounters smallpox epidemics and her heroine Claire Fraser tackles them all. But I was most interested in how to fake it-because you never know when you have to. In Dragonfly in Amber, Claire tries to mimic smallpox with her herbs. She uses rosemary, stinging nettle, bitter cascara, and Rose madder.
Stinging nettle can be mashed in a morter, while it topically creates a rash it does have other purposes.
Mother Earth News:
"For over 2,000 years, doctors have recognized the herb's ability to stop all kinds of internal and external bleeding, and considered it a good blood purifier. Taken as a tea, it has been found to help cure mucus congestion, skin irritations, water retention, and diarrhea. The beverage is also said to help nursing mothers produce milk and it also stimulate the digestive glands of the stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas, and gall bladder. Applied externally, nettle tea — it is claimed — relieves rheumatism in both people and animals, makes a first-class gargle for mouth and throat infections, helps to clear up acne and eczema and promotes the healing of burns."
"Cascara bark was used as a laxative for centuries by Native American tribes. The bark was collected in spring and put into the shade to dry. Green bark would cause vomiting and severe diarrhea, so the aging process, taking at least a year, was an important part of preparation.
Cascara found its way to Europe by way of the Spanish conquistadores who explored the Pacific Northwest in the 1600s. They gave it the name Cascara Sagrada, or sacred bark, because of its efficacy." From Outlanderherbal.blogspot.com
According to Wikipedia, "By 1877 the U.S. pharmaceutical company Parke-Davis was producing cascara preparations, and soon afterwards cascara products were being exported overseas to European markets. The explosion of the cascara industry caused great damage to native cascara populations during the 1900s, as a result of overharvesting."
"Poison for a rival," he said. "or at least she thinks so.""Oh?" I said. "And what is it really? Bitter cascara?"He looked at me in pleased surprise. "You're very good at this," he said. "A natural talent, or were you taught? Well, no matter." He waved a broad palm, dismissing the matter. "Yes, that's right, cascara. The rival will fall sick tomorrow, suffer visibly in order to satisfy the Vicomtesse's desire for revenge and convince her that her purchase was a good one, and then she will recover, with no permanent harm done, and the Vicomtesse will attribute the recovery to the intervention of the priest or a counter spell done by a sorcerer employed by the victim."-- From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, by Diana Gabaldon
Here are some interesting smallpox things:
Ben Franklin's regret that he did not inoculate his son.
The first inoculations!
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