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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 heritage of mankind, and the one illness ever to be effectively exterminated (30 years in the past subsequent yr) through a public well-being crusade. Proceeds from the sale of this e-book will to to help the Edward Jenner Museum in Berkeley, united kingdom (visit

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20 This was one of the doctors’ few stock tricks to prove their mastery over the body (others included the induction of diarrhoea with purgatives or vomiting with emetics). The patient was bled either by cutting into a distended vein with a lancet or sticking on a couple of dozen well-starved leeches. Typically, several ounces (half a wine bottle) of blood would be removed at one sitting, although enthusiasts aimed for a whole pint. This was repeated as necessary, sometimes until the patient fainted or could not stand.

Later, a separate mutation (C) gave rise to Variola major, probably in Asia between 400 and 1,600 years ago. This scenario makes sense of the gaps in the historical records – quite simply, full-blown smallpox had not yet arrived in classical and biblical times. It also suggests that Ramses V had Variola minor (and perhaps died of some other acute illness) and may explain why Rhazes thought that measles was worse than smallpox (which would also have been Variola minor). 3 Evolution of the smallpox (variola) viruses from their precursor poxvirus.

I had had my hair cut off when the pimples first showed and later my head was one mass of suppuration. I remember shouting out with the pain. I could not bear light or noise. All the openings of my body were filled with pus. My throat was especially painful and I could only whisper. I don’t remember other details except that the eruption on my body gradually extended to my feet. By that time the head, face and chest were developing a thick crust which was very itchy and difficult not to scratch.

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