Notes: Episode 8


In Asia, practitioners developed the technique of variolation—the deliberate infection with smallpox. Dried smallpox scabs were blown into the nose of an individual who then contracted a mild form of the disease. Upon recovery, the individual was immune to smallpox. Between 1% to 2% of those variolated died as compared to 30% who died when they contracted the disease naturally.

By 1700, variolation had spread to Africa, India and the Ottoman Empire.

Image of a right hand from fingers to above the wrist showing an innoculated puncture of the skin and the resulting smallpox scab.

In contrast to Asians and Africans who inoculated by blowing dried smallpox scabs up the nose, Europeans and their American cousins tended to innoculate through a puncture in the skin.