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Title: Battling the variola : Charles Marie de La Condamine Chevalier de l’Ordre de Saint Lazare
Authors: Savona-Ventura, Charles
Keywords: La Condamine, Charles-Marie de, 1701-1774
Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem -- History
Smallpox -- Europe -- History -- 18th century
Issue Date: 2015-11
Publisher: Sancti Lazari Ordinis Academia Internationalis
Citation: Savona-Ventura, C. (2015). Battling the variola: Charles Marie de La Condamine Chevalier de l’Ordre de Saint Lazare. First International meeting of the Sancti Lazari Ordinis Academia Internationalis, Malta. 1: 87-97.
Abstract: Variola or smallpox is an infectious disease caused by two Variola virus variants. The infection probably reached significance in human communities soon after 10,000 BCE when the cultivation of land required permanent settlements bringing mankind closer to a growing pool of animal pathogens. Smallpox is believed to have most likely evolved from a rodent virus between 68,000 and 16,000 years ago. The disease was certainly extant in Egypt during the second millennium BCE. Skin rashes on Egyptian mummies, including the Pharaoh Ramses V (died 1145 BCE), suggest that ancient Egypt may have been the earliest smallpox endemic region; though it may have been imported from the eastern lands since the earliest medical literature describing smallpox-like disease comes from ancient China (1122 BCE) and India (as early as 1500 BCE). Smallpox is an acute highly infectious specific fever characterized by a peripherally distributed deep-seated disfiguring eruption associated with very severe systemic manifestations. The Variola virus major infection was associated with a high mortality reaching 25-50% in adults and over 80% in children.
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