Splice the mainbrace!

Batten down the hatches!

Land ahoy!

Yes, it’s that time again! The latest issue of Aquila children’s magazine – and it’s a July/August double issue with the theme Humankind. There are many interesting and entertaining articles inside, but the one which seems to have gripped the nation is on the subject of ‘variolation’. I can’t bring myself to say who wrote it for reasons of modesty – but read on for some clues. Regular readers of this blog…

which you are, aren’t you?

..may remember that I did a posting on this subject a year or two back. I came across a very old gravestone with an odd inscription which talked of a young man called Edmund Dolling who had died after ‘designedly’ giving himself smallpox.

I assumed he was maybe unlucky in love and had taken in his own life in a bizarre fashion. But it turned out that variolation was a widely practised precursor to vaccination.

Smallpox was a deadly disease but it was discovered that for some reason if you infected yourself by introducing small particles of a smallpox scab into your bloodstream, you usually not only survived but were protected against catching the disease again.

About one in three people who caught smallpox in the ‘normal’ way would die – whereas over 90% of people who practised variolation survived.




Poor old Edmund was one of the unlucky ones.


About ramblesofawriter

Writer, thinker, tea drinker.
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