A European Grand Tour, and Smallpox

in steemstem •  7 months ago  (edited)

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It was 1972. Many people reading this blog were likely not alive then. But I was, and I was traveling across Europe with my mother. It was the trip of a lifetime for her. I had already spent a summer there a few years before, so felt quite confident roaming around the continent. I was less confident in my ability to guide my mother, who had begun the trip with a number of health challenges. Such significant challenges, in fact, that her doctor advised against smallpox revaccination.

After all, he assured her, there was no smallpox in Europe (ha!).1



smallpox2 adverse reaction chart.jpg

The chart was constructed (by me) using information derived from an article in "Clinical Medical Research". The article emphasizes that in most cases these adverse reactions will be seen in people who are immune compromised or suffering from an underlying illness. (Pregnant women also should not be vaccinated or exposed to the vaccine because of risk to the fetus) However, sometimes these adverse events occur, and there is no discernible cause.



Variola and Vaccinia Virus

smallpox and vaccinia viruses2.jpg

Both viruses in the image, smallpox (variola) and vaccinia, are orthopoxviruses. In this family of viruses, smallpox alone occurs exclusively in humans. The modern vaccine against smallpox actually contains live vaccinia virus, not smallpox. Both images, smallpox and vaccinia, are in the public domain.

smallpox Infectious diseases_ward_at_East_Brimingham_Hospital,_1978 dr. Graham Beards 3.0.jpg

A mystery that was never solved: How did a young woman, Janet Parker, contract smallpox at Birmingham Hospital in 1978? She was a photographer who worked on the floor above a laboratory where the smallpox virus was being studied. Miss Parker had received a smallpox vaccine in 1966. Still, she became ill and after a bit of delay, was diagnosed with smallpox.

While many people who had contact with Parker were quarantined, only her mother had a confirmed case of smallpox. Her father died of a heart attack while in quarantine--for safety reasons, no autopsy was performed. The doctor who ran the smallpox laboratory, Henry Bedson, killed himself while he was in quarantine.

Janet Parker was the last person in the world known to have died of smallpox. She died on September 11, 1978. 2



In 1979, WHO announced that smallpox had been eradicated, worldwide. The last reported case had occurred in the Birmingham laboratory, with the accidental (unexplained) release of the pathogen. After WHO declared the world to be free of smallpox, routine vaccination programs were terminated across the globe. Select military personnel and a few members of other groups still receive the vaccine.

smallpox3 Directors of Global_Smallpox_Eradication_Program CDc public.jpg

What this means for us today, is that the vast majority of people now living have never been vaccinated against smallpox.

Should we be worried?





But let's go back to 1972, when nobody was worried about smallpox in Europe. My mother and I hastily prepared for our Grand Tour. 3 Haste in this situation was a good thing, because a more considered course of action would have been to stay home. My mother was not well. Not only that, we had a very lean travel budget, which would not allow for cushy accoutrements. I intended to wing it, as I had done on my previous trip. No reservations. No set itinerary. Just two round trip airplane tickets.

All we had was a vague ambition to visit certain sites. But then, if we'd been wise and deliberate, my mother never would have seen Europe. And this trip was a necessary tonic, because my mother had recently received some really bad news: she'd been diagnosed with a condition called wet macular degeneration, in both eyes. This meant she would lose most of her vision. Her doctor said this form of sight loss was untreatable, and might progress rapidly.



My Mother, Circa 1910, Probably Close to the Age at Which She Was Vaccinated Against Smallpox



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My sister and I talked over the grim diagnosis, and we decided there was only one thing we could do about it. One of us would take my mother to Europe and help her realize a life dream--while she still had her eyesight. My sister couldn't go. She was in the middle of a school semester. But I could. On the pretext of studying languages, which were very helpful on my job, I could finagle a six-week leave of absence. Six weeks. This would indeed be a Grand Tour.

We drained the family bank account, and our plans were laid. Smallpox was the last thing on our minds. How could we know that the trip would take us to Vienna just as neighboring Yugoslavia (former) was experiencing a smallpox outbreak? 4


Kosovo RUGOVO SCHLUCHT, Kosovo 1972 jean melis 3.0.jpg


As we prepared for our trip in New York, in another part of the world a gentleman named Ibrahim Hoti was returning to his home in Kosovo, Yugoslavia (former). He had just fulfilled an important religious obligation, the Hajj--a pilgrimage to Mecca, required of every Muslim at least once in a lifetime. On his journey, Ibrahim also visited holy sites in Baghdad, although at the time of his visit there was active smallpox in that city. Ibrahim had been vaccinated several times against the disease, and according to his certificates of travel, was revaccinated before this trip.

He left the Middle East on February 15 and returned home. Reports vary as to whether or not he felt ill at that point. In any event, he went about his normal routine. He traveled to nearby Đakovica. He had his car repaired. Friends visited him. He visited them.

Eventually, eleven of Ibrahim's early contacts would come down with smallpox.


Đakovica Kosovo old market user Arianit, Shkelzen Rexha 3.0.jpg

It is in Đakovica that Latif Mumdzic is believed to have contracted smallpox. Although it is not known if Latif and Ibrahim had any direct contact, the presence of the two men in Đakovica is the only connection that can be established between them. Unsuspecting health officials would misdiagnose Latif when he fell ill, and he would eventually die from smallpox.


By the time Latif Mumdzic was suffering from smallpox my mother and I had begun our journey. We progressed at a casual pace and made our way through several cities: Paris, Rome and Venice. Between each city we took a scenic train ride. Whenever we arrived at a train station, I would ask my mother to watch the luggage while I went to the information booth and asked about accommodations. In each case we were given excellent referrals, all located along municipal transportation routes.

Of the three cities, it was Venice that captured my mother's heart most. She was content to sip coffee in St. Mark's Square, soak up the sun, take in the scenery, watch pools of water dry on the pavement, and marvel at the multitude of pigeons that nested in church turrets.

Piazzetta3 San Marco Venice Benh LIEU SONG 4.0.jpg

As we left Venice and headed toward Vienna we could not guess that we were en route to the one place in Europe that was about to be put on smallpox alert.



Latif Mumdzic has Hemorrhagic Smallpox


Health officials in Yugoslavia (former) also did not guess the danger in their midst. When Latif Mumdzic became ill, his doctor thought he had a bacterial infection. Penicillin was administered. When a peculiar black rash appeared, the doctor thought Latif was experiencing a reaction to penicillin. As this unfortunate gentleman was examined by different experts and passed through different facilities, the number of those infected with smallpox increased. Many of these people were healthcare workers.

Smallpox types chart.jpg

The chart was constructed (by me) using information from Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Hopkins credits D. A. Henderson as the source of their information. Henderson was on site during the 1972 Yugoslavian outbreak.




The train from Venice to Vienna took us across dramatic countryside. When we arrived in Vienna, I, as usual, asked for reasonably-priced accommodations that were near to major tourist sites. The pension to which we were directed was ideal. It was beautiful, comfortable and within the Inner City. However, my mother was exhausted and had to stay in our room to rest.

The owner of the pension was solicitous. I wish I could thank her now for her kindness. She brought pastries and jellies to my mother, instead of asking her to come down to the main room.

I entertained myself by walking to the Ringstrasse. The bustling heart of Vienna was open to me. It was a couple of weeks before Easter, and shop windows were decorated in observation of the holiday.


Café Schwarzenberg Deror_avi 3,2.5,2.0,1.0.JPG

I may have passed this very window (though I'm sure not those very pastries) as I strolled along the Ringstrasse that day. Apparently Café Schwarzenberg dates back to the nineteenth century. I do remember the tempting sachertortes and marzipan treats on display in many windows. I must have been hungry, because that memory is clear, even after all these years :)


It was on the Ringstrasse, I believe, that I saw a startling newspaper headline.


Die Pocken!


The headline covered the whole front page. My college German was not very good, but I could translate that word. And I knew enough German to sort through the article and pull out essential information. Smallpox in Kosovo. Guest workers possible conduits of the disease into Vienna. Quarantine imposed in Yugoslavia (former).

Of course I thought of my mother, resting at the pension. Unprotected by a smallpox vaccine.


Transmissibility of Smallpox


Different sources describe the infectious nature of smallpox in different ways. Johns Hopkins Centers for Health Security describes smallpox as highly contagious. WHO, on a page called Frequently asked questions and answers on smallpox, on the other hand, has this less alarming statement:

...speed of smallpox transmission is generally slower than for such diseases as measles or chickenpox. Patients spread smallpox primarily to household members and friends. 5

Both sources agree that during the incubation period, 7-19 days, it is not contagious. However, as soon as a fever hits, the infectious period begins. This continues until the last pustule has healed, the last smallpox crust has fallen off. The personal effects and the material from the patient continue to carry the pathogen and are infectious.





An Abrupt End to Our Grand Tour


We had to leave Vienna immediately. The great thing about having no set reservations or plans was flexibility. Prudence dictated that we leave Vienna before infection (might) spread and restrictions were possibly placed on travel. We couldn't risk being trapped behind the Cordon Saintaire of a smallpox quarantine. And my mother couldn't risk being vaccinated.

Our only fixed commitment: return airplane tickets from London to New York. Adjusting the date of that return could be easily arranged.



Ferry Across the English Channel
smallpox Crossing2 the English Channel Le Manche White cliffs of Dover_in_background Timitrius from Great Britain 2.0 generic 2000 march.jpg

We took the train directly from Vienna to Paris, although I cannot be certain if the route was direct. Our goal was to leave continental Europe.

From Paris we took a train to Calais and then a ferry across the English Channel to Dover. This was an interesting part of the journey.

The Channel crossing was rough. I didn't expect that. It was nighttime, so I had reserved berths. This was a good thing, because many (young) people on deck were vomiting quite audibly over the rails of the ferry. Although I did feel queasy, at no point did I lose my dignity. My mother on the other hand, felt nothing untoward. She loved the ferry ride. The ferry turned out to be one of the most memorable parts of her trip.




Authorities in Yugoslavia (Former) Trace All Contacts of Those Exposed to Smallpox


By the time we left Vienna, Latif Mumdzic had died. After his death the true nature of his illness was discovered and as other victims of the disease began to appear, authorities realized they had a health crisis on their hands.

Epidemiologists meticulously traced contacts until they arrived at the person they considered to be the index patient...the person from whom all the other illnesses derived. This person was Ibrahim Hoti. 6

Strict quarantine measures were imposed. A massive vaccination campaign was carried out. By mid April the outbreak was contained. 175 victims had been identified. Of these, 35 people had died.


Smallpox2 Field Examination of Vaccination Reaction.jpg

How the Disease Progresses (Symptoms--Variola Major)


After the incubation period (7-19 days): high fever, aches and perhaps vomiting are experienced. This period may last 2 -4 days. The first rash occurs in the back of the mouth and throat. According to the US CDC, this is the most contagious stage. Subsequently, the rash spreads to the skin. Fever may abate, but then the rash begins to change, pustules form and the fever rises again. Scabs form and the person remains contagious, and ill, until the last scab has fallen off. All in all, active disease may last between three and four weeks.





Vaccine Effectiveness

A 2019 article in Military Medicine (Oxford Journals), Evidence for Residual Immunity to Smallpox After Vaccination and Implications for Re-emergence, looked at twenty-nine papers that assessed immunity conferred by vaccination. This paper considered specifically antibody response. The conclusion: childhood immunization conferred greater immunity than adult immunization. In some cases antibody response was evident 20 years later. In most cases, the authors of this paper state, 11.7 years after vaccination there was residual antibody response. They suggest that revaccination would reinvigorate that response.

Smallpox vaccine2 injection Photo Credit James Gathany CDC public domain.jpg

In a study from the University of Minnesota, D. A. Henderson critiques the report on duration of smallpox immunity. He challenges the optimistic assessment. According to Henderson, overwhelming evidence from epidemiological studies shows a waning of immunity between 5 and 10 years after vaccination. He asserts that the existence of antibodies is not an indicator of actual, clinical immunity. He explains that historical evidence indicates revaccination does confer longtime immunity, but a single vaccine does not.

Henderson is concerned about the vulnerability of the population to an outbreak, whether that outbreak be naturally occurring or through bioterrorism.


The Outbreak is Well on Its Way to Being Contained, and We Leave for New York


After we got off the ferry in Dover, we continued to London. Once again, we traveled by train. In London, we heard no chatter about smallpox. The outbreak did not seem to be on the popular radar. We stayed for a few days in the city, made our return flight arrangements, and managed to take in some of the usual sights.

What I remember of London is a beautiful park, Buckingham Palace and policemen on horseback. This was one of the few places we purchased souvenirs. We had bought little glass ornaments in Venice and here we bought tiny dolls fashioned to look like palace guards. These small items were easy to pack and light to carry.

smallpox2 kensington gardens Txllxt TxllxT 4.0.jpg



Viability of the Smallpox Virus Over Time

Since human beings are the only living reservoir of variola, how might the disease be resurrected, besides bioterrorism. Are there other factors that might cause a smallpox outbreak?

Research has demonstrated that in dry form, the virus has amazing (distressing) stability. In 2006, the publication New Scientist issued what it described as a Note of Caution. The authors detail the survivability of variola in different environments. In patients recovering from the illness, viability of variola in urine and throat cultures diminishes rapidly. However, cultures from pustules show little loss of vitality. In fact dried material from scabs can survive for years, even twenty years.

A 2014 article in Emerging Infectious Diseases, Poxvirus Viability and Signatures in Historical Relics describes virus specimens extracted from dried pustules (crusts) that remained viable on a glass slide after 417 days at room temperature and 432 days under refrigeration.

Concern about viability of the virus after many years has led to the issuance of advisories to archeologists and archivists who might stumble on long-interred contaminated artifacts.




End Note

Toward the beginning of this blog, I described the vast reservoir of unvaccinated people--naive, when it comes to smallpox immunity--who exist in the world today. Given what we have learned here about this durable virus, I ask the question again,"Should we be worried?"

Maybe not worried, but certainly informed and concerned.


Thank you for spending your time with me

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Steem On!
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Notes


1 The last outbreak in Yugoslavia had been in 1930. The last outbreak in Europe had been in [Stockholm, 1963]CDC Supplement

2 Janet Paker was alone at death. Her family was in quarantine and could not offer her comfort. When she died, she was found on the floor of her hospital room. She had apparently been trying to disconnect an IV drip. Birmingham Live

3 The Grand Tour, for those not familiar with the term, is a rather anachronistic notion which prevailed before air travel made the world smaller. The well-heeled young from England would travel 'the Continent' as a kind of initiation in a cultured life. I use the term, obviously, tongue in cheek :) ThoughtCo:The Grand Tour

4 The history of Yugoslavia ( or any place), its creation and dissolution, may be told by different sources in different ways. Here are two sources BBC History "Yugoslavia: 1918 - 2003" and ThoughtCo: "History of the Former Country of Yugoslavia"

5 WHO: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on Smallpox

6. Establishing that Ibrahim Moti was the index patient involved several steps. Health officials were not entirely dependent on a subjective narrative in order to make a case that Hoti had recently suffered from smallpox, and that he was indeed the index patient. Blood tests taken in April indicated elevations in certain markers that indicate recent infection these included elevated titers of HAI (1/160 and 1/320) and neutralizing antibodies(1/100 (and 1/500). Another test, agar cell diffusion test for precipitants was positive. According to a Cambridge.org research article:

a positive precipitation test in agar gel, a CF titre of 1/20 or more and an HI titre of 1/80 or higher in a single specimen of serum would be suggestive of recent smallpox infections. Such a result might be of special value in the retrospective diagnosis of missed cases and in the detection of minimal or subclinical infections.

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Some Sources Used in Writing This Blog

(Animals in the logo image are from Pixabay)

  1. History of Smallpox

  2. Clinical Medical Research

  3. CDC MMWR Weekly

  4. Science Direct orthopoxviruses

  5. US FDA ACAM2000 (Smallpox Vaccine) Questions and Answers

  6. BBC How did a young woman, Janet Parker, contract smallpox

  7. Birmingham Live Janet Parker

  8. National Geographic Smallpox Eradicated

  9. University of Minnesota: U. S. Army Switching to New Smallpox Vaccine

  10. ThoughtCo: Grand Tour of Europe

  11. Mayo Clinic: Macular Degeneration: Symptoms, Causes

  12. Microbiological Reviews: The Smallpox Story: Life and Death of an Old Disease

  13. Scourge: the Once and Future Threat of Smallpox, by Jonathan B. Tucker

  14. Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security: Smallpox Fact Sheet

  15. Johns Hopkins: D. A. Henderson Obituary

  16. UNESCO: Inner City.

  17. AFAR Travel Guides: Cafe Schwarzenberg

  18. WHO: Frequently Asked Questions About Smallpox

  19. US CDC Signs and Symptoms of Smallpox

  20. Merriam Webster Dictionary Cordon Sanitaire

  21. Essentials of Autopsy Practice: New Advances Trends and Developments

  22. US CDC: Smallpox Symptoms Index

  23. Military Medicine (Oxford Journals): Evidence for Residual Immunity to Smallpox After Vaccination and Implications for Re-emergence,

  24. University of Minnesota, D. A. Henderson critiques the report on duration of smallpox immunity.

  25. New Scientist: Note of Caution

  26. Emerging Infectious Diseases: Poxvirus Viability and Signatures in Historical Relics

  27. CDC: Smallpox in Yugoslavia

  28. CDC Supplement: Smallpox Stockholm, Sweden, 1963

  29. BBC: History Yugoslavia: 1918 - 2003

  30. ThoughtCo: History of the Former Country of Yugoslavia

  31. Cambridge.org: Epidemiology and Infection Antibody response in non-haemorrhagic smallpox patients

  32. Emerging Infectious Diseases: The 1947 Smallpox Vaccination Campaign in New York City, Revisited

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What an article my dearest @agmoore2 !

The way you so skillfully intertwined the many stories into the smallpox topic fascinates me. Including your mum's story: The realization of a dream in such a delicate moment of her life. Very touching.

Your article brought so many things to mind. The events that took place at the hospital in Birmingham are like those of a horror movie. My goodness, how susceptible and fragile are we? And, when we think such situations belong only in the archives of history, the Zika and Ebola viruses remind us of our fragility. Of our continuing fragility. That's why learning about how resilient the smallpox virus is is so terrifying!

It was beautiful to read that Venice and the ferry journey brought delight to your mum. Imagining your exploration of Vienna's street during Easter time is quite romantic! And your time in London ... oh ... souvenirs ... how lovely :) I admire with a certain level of jealousy people who have been gifted with spontaneity. A grand tour with minimum planning is most certainly something to be proud of for pulling off

Thank you for sharing this touching, personal life experience with us here my dear.
Oh, and before I forget. That's an adorable photo of you mother's!

With more respect and affection than ever before :*
Your Brazilian friend :)

Abigail.

Thank you so much, Abigail for your kind words!
Erika's blog was the prompt for this article. She brought back many poignant memories.

We do influence each other, don't we...even when ocean are between.

I'm so glad you like my mother's picture. I love it-- young and eager, life ahead, almost like our journey to Europe. What will the future bring?

Yes, horror stories. I was moved by the suffering of people who caught this terrible disease--a ravaging, merciless disease. You're right about our fragility in the face of current threats, pathogens we know about, and those that have not yet been discovered. It's kind of a metaphor for existential insecurity, which we all learn to deal with at an early age. 0r maybe some of us don't--but that's your department, as a psychologist 😇

My dear Brazilian friend--your feedback means a lot to me. When I write, I think of a few people who might read my pieces. You're one of them 😃 It makes writing more meaningful.

Hope you are having a wonderful summer.

With great affection,
Your New York friend,
AG

I am happy that I was part of your inspiration for this. :-D

The picture of your mom is unbelievable.

Thank you 😇

Yes, Erika has that sort of effect on us, doesn't she? Reviving memories, opening our eyes to new perspectives, inspiring. Oh ... <3

You make me feel very special by saying you have me in mind (among others) whilst writing. Same here my dear. Not only that, but .... I have recently finished reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The way she portrayed society and what becomes of its beings which exist within it. Well ... It reminded me of your fiction work. Of how you so honestly put down in words the, oftentimes, disturbing reality that surround us.

See, I am a little bit in love with Celadons (the superficiality, the self-sacrifice, the blind extremism). But, I will not ramble here :)

All that to say that you are also with me, not only during my writings, but also during my readings :*

Much love to you.
Your Brazilian Friend,

Abigail.

Dear Abigail,
What a generous reply. To think I crossed your mind when you read Frankenstein! I love Mary Shelley. It wasn't easy to be a woman writer back then (or even to just be a woman). What a book! Serves as a kind of Promethean model for humans reaching beyond, defying the laws of nature. The ideas in that book do not get old, I believe.

Celadon: I was so grateful @brisby offered thoughtful fare. I just took the ball and ran :))

Know that when I sit down to write again, I do so with more confidence because of your encouragement. Thanks for making my ride here on Steemit so much more enjoyable than it otherwise would be.

From New York, where it is a cool and comfortable 66°

Love ,
AG

💕 💕 💕 💕

What a story! As commented out by others, it is clear that such an outbreak would propagate so much faster today, with all these people traveling all around the globe.

She was content to sip coffee in St. Mark's Square, soak up the sun, take in the scenery, watch pools of water dry on the pavement, and marvel at the multitude of pigeons that nested in church turrets.

This is my best part of your story: remembering good and similar memories to me from my honeymoon. Although I must admin that I have visited many of the places you mentioned and described, and that I have excellent memories from there too (without smallpox... I am too young for that).

Sounds like you had a wonderful honeymoon :) I liked writing that line, because I could see my mother as I wrote it. She did love those outdoor cafes, and St. Mark's Square was her favorite.

Most people on Steemit are too young for smallpox memories. Isn't that good news? Now if we could do that for all the other horrible diseases....

I'm really grateful SteemSTEM exists and welcomes articles on such a variety of subjects. It's a joy to write and know there may be an audience. Hats off to you, and other members of the team.

We did a two-week-long cruise on the Mediterranean see, visiting many places in Italy, Greece, Croatia, Turkey, etc. It still sounds like being a trip of yesterday thanks to the nice memories, although this happened more than 10 years ago :)

PS: I discovered that you are older than what I initially thought, although you belong, with people like me or @abigail-dantes, to the old-people category (no offense please). ^^

No offense.

I think Steemit would benefit if more people in my demographic joined. People who are "old" often are looking for an interesting hobby--profit (value of Steem) won't affect their willingness to participate. I think the only hurdle is convincing older people that crypto is not a dark scheme that will swallow up their life savings.

More recruiting/marketing should be done in the older demographic. Forget about the getting rich pitch...just let people know they can have fun, learn, and grow.

Anyway, that's what I think. The golden years could be a golden opportunity for Steem.

old lady.jpg

There you go @lemouth, took this selfie just now. Especially for you! I hope you like it :P

😂

Tadam! Here are the old ones :)

😂😂😂
❤️😊

😂

count me in ...

wait, this is another club, I am joining? LOL

They used to call me gradma @agmoore2. Did you know that? One time we were all in the chat and I put an emoji similar to this: 👵. They said it was a nice selfie of mine! 🤣
I told them all to shush and respect the old lady: me!!

Anyhow, welcome to the "old-people category" as @lemouth likes to call it! 😘

Oh my heavens! Grandma! The nerve of the whippersnappers 😂 I prefer Oma😁

It took me a while to come out of the closet. I thought the shock of a blogging septuagenarian might be too much for some of the younger folks around here. But now that I have company (ha ha)...

Very, very good company 😇

💖

I had only now the leisure to read your blog. Nice how much resonance you got! An interesting combination that you have made to interweave your journey with other events! Really adventurous. It is a very affectionate gesture you made for your mother. My best friend has already made several trips with her mother and I look at it with a longing eye because I have never actually done anything alone with my mother.

Did you - your mother and you - talk again about this shared experience?

You've barely escaped infection, as it looks. I felt taken by you on this so unique journey through Europe and as you said, very few of us were already in the world at that time, I was just two years old :) Smallpox is really not something you want to get.

The world is a dangerous place and I have often wondered myself how a big family like mine actually survived. I don't like to think about infections and what they can cause. Call it my personal ignorance :)

How differently each one of us remembers what impressed him the most is something that I always find worth mentioning. Have you kept photos from this trip? I would be interested to know what the streets looked like in those days, the fashion, the cars, the shops.

Your Viennese memory makes me smile, I've got the appetite for Sachertorte. Were there people you remembered from that time, travel companions or little episodes?

Lots of love from the other side of the ocean,
Your German friend Erika <3

Thank you for reading. See how your blog stirred memories?

Did my mother and I speak about the trip? I'll try to keep this light, but in the last weeks of her life, as she calmly prepared for an end that we knew was imminent, my mother brought up Venice. Does that count?

This was not the sort of tour most people take. I don't believe we ate in one restaurant. We would have a continental breakfast, buy food in local shops and snack at street cafes. This, watching people go by and soaking up the ambiance, was my mother's favorite pastime. Remember, she was not well, and tired easily.

Of course we visited the Vatican and Versailles. Versailles was so crowded, we left. People were wonderful everywhere. I think my mother charmed them. She was tiny, and extremely modest. One person who really stands out in my memory: a woman from Hungary whom we met on the train. She had packed a lunch and offered to share :)) With no common language, we managed to communicate throughout that train ride.

No pictures. No camera. I never took pictures in those days. Just have the ones in my head :)

I loved Vienna, loved the feel of it. I did buy marzipan treats. I think it was the first time I ever had marzipan.

I'm so glad you liked my blog, my reminiscence. In a way you had a hand in this...everything we read and see influences us. This is true on Steemit, also.

Hardfork, or no Hardfork, I look forward to reading more from you and my other favorite bloggers.

Have a wonderful end of summer, Erika,
Love,
Your New York friend
AG

Did my mother and I speak about the trip? I'll try to keep this light, but in the last weeks of her life, as she calmly prepared for an end that we knew was imminent, my mother brought up Venice. Does that count?

absolute, yes. So good to be able to prepare for what's inevitable. Many people can't do that because of circumstances or fear. It's such a good thing the two of you were having this.

Traveling with the elders is appreciated by people, is what I think. Friends of mine did that with their parents, too and got positive comments on that. It's a special time, in particular with adult children and their mothers or fathers.

I can imagine now your mum much better. Thank you for sharing it.

Yes, we have an influence of each other, I agree.

Oh, marcipan! I love it and leave it for special occasions. Then I enjoy every bite of it, mostly combined with chocolate.

Summer here is crazy hot. Just today we have 32 degrees, can you believe it. I don't complain though, I like the heat and for me it's better warm than cold :)

The Hardfork tomorrow is just another thing to happen. Steemit will go on working and we'll see how the changes are going to affect us. We are true bloggers, aren't we? :D

Hugs!
Yours Erika

🌟Hugs back 😇 🌟
Your friend,
AG

Ha! I was surely not born in 1972. I am sitting here watching the rain wondering, damn what the world would have looked like in that era. This is my most fav blog of yours until now. It touches on aspects of science of the disease and vaccines and have a brilliant personal touch. In middle I was little emotional thinking about my mother. My parents passed away when I was like 10 years old and I guess I was too young to even know what dreams of their I could have fulfilled when I grew up. It was very touching moment for me when you explained how before disease could effect her vision you made sure you could take her to see Europe.

Anyhow getting back to smallpox. I am very curious about the last 1978 case of small pox. Why miss Parker got infected. I have to, have to dig deeper into this. Anyway, about being worried about small pox. Well luckily since ages we haven't heard of any infection. Through vaccination we made sure that we have eradicated whatever we knew of. The military people I think get vaccinated because of likelihood of smallpox to be used in some bioweapon. If it is to hit again ever it will definitely be a mass chaos. Though if it's not some new strain I think it would be contained fast, because we have learnt a lot about it. But before containment it can cause some damage for sure.

Anyhow, thanks for this wonderful article.

I'm so sorry you lost your parents at such an early age. What a challenge for you, as a child. You must have had some wonderful role models because you turned out very well. Your ethics always come through in your pieces. As does your humanity. Of course, you are smart. But smart people have done a lot of harm in the world. You'll never be one of those :)

As for realizing my mother's life dream...she raised six children by herself. My sister and I (emphasize my sister here) thought my mother should reap some small dividend after all that.

In the past I did a little research on the polio vaccine and so the information on the smallpox vaccine was especially interesting. I'm glad my material met the standards of a research scientist---high bar to meet here on SteemSTEM.io.

Thanks so much for reading and for your kind words.
Regards,
AG

Hey @agmoore, thank you for this very nice and also a bit emotional post.

It is a very could mingle between personal life experience, a reflection of historical moments and scientific facts. The issue of vaccination is definitely more up to date than ever. And the subject of "Pocken" is probably one of these arguments to have at least a few immunities.

Nevertheless, you describe the opposite of vaccination enemies. In my opinion, both reactions are bad and at the end no pox epidemic destroyed Europe. And you probably missed some beautiful days in Europe.

It is this nebulous danger, this abstract nature of contagious diseases which makes it hard to make a reasonable assessment of the situation.

I will travel to Turkey in a few days. I always made my mind about having some extra vaccinations before going there, such as for Hepatitis. But now it's too late. Therefore, fingers cross!

Have a nice summertime

Regards

Chapper

Thank you for your kind assessment of my blog. I'm glad you appreciate the personal and objective parts. It was important for me to deal with the science and at the same time respect the individuals who suffered--both their experience and their privacy.

Ahh...vaccines. Public health officials often wax disingenuous about risks. Of course there are risks to individuals, but public health thinks of the 'herd' and community protection. I think it would be better if they were honest up front about the levels of protection conferred and the risks involved.
However, I wouldn't want to live in an age without vaccines.

It's true I probably missed some beautiful sites, but I returned in 2000 to attend a wedding and caught up on much of that.

I hope you enjoy your trip to Turkey. My brother many years ago visited friends there and had a wonderful time. Be safe. A lot of people like you and want you to come back healthy--me included :)

With respect and warm regards,
AG

The blog raises issues that are not usually discussed. Makes you wonder if there was an outbreak, would it be possible to vaccinate everyone on time? Is the world ready?

Thank you! Does make you think, doesn't it?

What courage you and your mother had to travel like that, especially to a different country. That was too close for comfort with smallpox and I had no idea there were 5 types of smallpox. What a beautiful thing you did for your mother before she lost her sight and for her to enjoy the simplicity of things melted my heart as well as her photo. You had me thinking about my mom. When she was 10 years old she and her family were quarantined at home for a month but I don't remember why. I think it was for measles? They health department put a sign on their door and nobody was allowed in or out. And then I was reminded of lining up at school for the nurse to give us sugar cubes. That was for polio.
I enjoyed your story written as a seasoned author and I am impressed with all of the research you did. You are a first class act @agmoore!

Wow! a month quarantine. I'd love to know more about that.

I never got the sugar cubes...just the injection. You were lucky :)) No pinch. One day I'll write a blog, I think, about the Sabin/Salk vaccine wars. Fascinating story.

As for doing something beautiful for my mother: I always felt bad it was me who took her on that trip. She would have had more fun with my sister...Those two really were in sync. But my mother and I were both lucky we got to share the experience.

Thank you very much for reading my blog and liking my mother's photo. I do love that picture and enjoyed sharing it.

My research may be sound, but I'm a terrible photographer. You make me itch to improve. Your blogs are so rich with narration and visual display.

Be well, @whatisnew.
Regards,
AG


This post was shared in the Curation Collective Discord community for curators, and upvoted and resteemed by the @c-squared community account after manual review.
@c-squared runs a community witness. Please consider using one of your witness votes on us here

Thank you, c-squared! Your support is very much appreciated.

I was hooked on this story.. words can not describe how great this is!!

Thank you! I just read your introductory post and loved it. You can tell by my blog that I'm quite mature (euphemism). I came of age in the late 60's. Your approach toward life would very much fit in with that time. Traditionally, the young reject precedent. But in the 60's we carried the banner of personal freedom to an extreme.
It takes courage to blaze an independent path. I admire your courage and will be following your writings.

Nice to meet you.



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Thank you so much! I did post on SteemSTEM.io--that's how I got to designate a beneficiary. Afterwards, I needed to edit and had a little trouble so I used my Steemit blog to make the edit. It's hard to explain how I got involved, but I did. Anyway, SteemSTEM.io, all the way for me :)

I am currently fixing many things (actually, a lot happened during the last 2-3 days). Normally, from now on, whatever looks great on the Steemit UI should look the same (i.e. great) here too. Feel free to come back to me in case of bugs!

PS... SteemPeak allows for all that for all tribes all wrapped up in one package!
Plus it looks great AND has access to features you never realised you needed so bad - you will be soo glad because you will be able to increase your amazing creating potential above its already amazing level!


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Hey, sorry it took me so long to get back around - I've been busy meeting many great people here in the chain. I don't leave my room and have already been growing a nice little network of amazing folks! It's people like you who stand out and it's important I think especially for people like me when we're small. Tribes/Communities have really helped to bring out the community that was deep down all Steemians.
Keep creating that great content that we love to curate around! 🍻

Oh! PS2: This comment's reward pool is 95% allocated to you,
in order to balance out the SteemPeak promotion I did in your comment wall, but most of all it provides a second avenue for people who want to support you x2

You are going to be patient with me, I hope. Figuring out how to optimize crypto and earnings...that is beyond me. I'm basically a blogger and Steem tourist. However, I love the fact that crypto gives people the opportunity to be free of a fiat economy. That's never going to be me, because I'm too easily confused :)
I'm glad to support your blogging here. A lot of people are enthusiastic about Steempeak. For my science articles I use SteemSTEM.io. This is a platform populated by interesting, supportive people. Check out some of the articles with a SteemSTEM tag. You'll probably find many of them interesting.
Good luck on your journey here, and in pursuing your fiat-free lifestyle :)

Of course - I only started my crypto journey in January, and it started very slow - using the drip drip drip of faucets until I accumulated enough to start doing a little more and then a little more. Now earning through my blogging has added a whole other layer and I am excited to see where crypto goes!!


♪ ♪ ♪ ♪

Thanks for sharing your experience with us!
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You have been curated by @thekittygirl on behalf of Inner Blocks: a community encouraging first hand content, with each individual living their best life, and being responsible for their own well being. #innerblocks Check it out at @innerblocks for the latest information and community updates, or to show your support via delegation.

I really appreciate the support, and the encouragement. I try to post worthwhile content. Inner Blocks is new to me. It's sounds like a great project.

This post was mentioned by @kharma.scribbles during "Pimp Your Post Thursday" (PYPT), the oldest curation-show on Discord for Steem posts. Your article is very detailed and full of information about smallpox. I applaud your research and your citations at the end! Bravo! I enjoyed reading about the trip to Europe and so glad that you and your mother were able to see some of the amazing sights there! Kudos for this great piece of writing and sharing your personal experiences! 😊

Thank you! I just discovered @kharma.scribbbles a couple of days ago. She seems like a very interesting person. And through her, you discovered me. I've looked at your blog. I read one post where you describe your methodology. Work hard, be thorough and careful. Sounds like the way I approach my blogs. I'm so glad we discovered each other :)) A lot of nice people on Steemit. You'll find some of them in the comments on this blog.
Good luck to all of us after Hardfork 21. I have no idea what it will mean, but I'll be here, no matter.
See you after the 'big event'.
Thanks again for your kind words and support.

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