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Old 14 March 2007, 08:45 AM
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Icon81 Spreading Smallpox

Q. Would it really have been possible for Europeans to infect Native Americans with the smallpox virus by giving them blankets used by other victims? How long could the virus live on a blanket?

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/13/science/13mqa.html
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  #2  
Old 16 March 2007, 08:48 PM
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Considering that anthrax can exsist on the ground and be stired up by animal herds and infect the animals. The animals can then infect the humans that are herding them. On top of that one of the ways that chickenpox is spread is via social contact or through infected clothing or bedding. It would be very reasonable to assume that smallpox would be transmitted through the use of infected clothing or other textiles.
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Old 18 March 2007, 10:20 AM
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I did a biology project on smallpox and its true they did give infected blankets to the aboriginal. Which was the first form of biological warfare.
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Old 18 March 2007, 10:35 AM
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Maybe they did, but at that time before Pasteur, did they really know that would work?
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  #5  
Old 18 March 2007, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joostik View Post
Maybe they did, but at that time before Pasteur, did they really know that would work?
Maybe not but I'd say it was a lucky guess.

P&LL, Syl
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Old 18 March 2007, 10:31 PM
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Even before germ theory people were aware that hanging out with people who had smallpox was a good way to catch it. They even performed inocculation (vaccination's precursor) by putting matter scraped from the sore of a smallpox victim into a cut in the skin of a healthy person who had never contracted the disease. Cases contracted by inocculation tended to be much milder than naturally contracted forms, and that patients undergoing the procedure generally recieved round-the-clock nursing care made them even more likely to make it.

People believed many diseases could be transferred by fabric in 18th Century England, and the idea was taken to the colonies. That smallpox sufferers produce scabs, which contain infectous matter, that can be carried in blankets makes it even more of a possibility that it worked. Although dragging along some sick soldiers would have been a much surer bet.

At the beginning of the American Revolution, British troops were accused of purposefully infecting the city of Boston with smallpox. They were said to have sent in sick people though, not blankets.
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Old 18 March 2007, 11:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hobojoe44 View Post
I did a biology project on smallpox and its true they did give infected blankets to the aboriginal. Which was the first form of biological warfare.
That would be Huns with the Black plague.

Just an ancedote, but I got chicken pox from an infected blanket. Some virus can live a very, very long time outside the body.
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Old 19 March 2007, 12:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FloridaGirl View Post
That would be Huns with the Black plague.
Actually, I think the Assyrians got there first with halucinogenic mushrooms in their enemies' drinking water. And Hannibal of the Elephants and the Alps fame was big on lobbing venomous snakes on to the other guy's ships according to Livy.

But I'm sure people have been realizing that if you cough on the guy you like, they cough too, so why not try coughing on the guy you don't like and see what happens?
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