28 - Smallpox Blankets

The story of smallpox blankets offered as gifts to indigenous peoples as a weapon of war is ubiquitous -- but is it based in truth? And did our increased medical understanding of smallpox lead to its use as a biological weapon?  In this episode, we confront these questions and explore the history of biological warfare, smallpox, and medicine. Listen to all this, a new #AdamAnswers, and more in this episode of Bedside Rounds, a tiny podcast about fascinating stories in clinical medicine. Sources: Barras V and Groub G, “History of biological warfare and bioterrorism,” Clin Microbiol Infect 2014. Carus W, “The history of biological weapons use: what we know and what we don’t,” Health Security, Vol 13, No4, 2015. Fenner F et al, “Smallpox and its Eradication,” World Health Organization, 1988, Chapters 5 and 6. Mayor A, “The Nessus Shirt in the New World: Smallpox Blankets in History and Legend,” J Am Folklore, Vol. 108, No. 427 (Winter, 1995), 54-77. Mear C, “The origin of the smallpox outbreak in Sydney in 1789,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, June, 2008. Skwarecki B, “What is the scariest disease?” PLoS Blogs, retrieved at https://gizmodo.com/what-is-the-scariest-disease-1653943826 Theves C, et al, “The rediscovery of smallpox,” Clin Microbiol Infect 2014; 20: 210-218. Ranlet P, “The British, the Indians, and Smallpox: What actually happened at Fort Pitt in 1763?”, Pennsylvania history: 427-442. Warren C, “Smallpox at Sydney Cove -- who, when, why?” J Aust Studies, 30 Oct 2013

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