The End of a Global Pox

The End of a Global Pox: America and the Eradication of Smallpox in the Cold War Era

BOB H. REINHARDT
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5149/9781469624105_reinhardt
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  • Book Info
    The End of a Global Pox
    Book Description:

    By the mid-twentieth century, smallpox had vanished from North America and Europe but continued to persist throughout Africa, Asia, and South America. In 1965, the United States joined an international effort to eradicate the disease, and after fifteen years of steady progress, the effort succeeded. Bob H. Reinhardt demonstrates that the fight against smallpox drew American liberals into new and complex relationships in the global Cold War, as he narrates the history of the only cooperative international effort to successfully eliminate a disease.Unlike other works that have chronicled the fight against smallpox by offering a "biography" of the disease or employing a triumphalist narrative of a public health victory,The End of a Global Poxexamines the eradication program as a complex exercise of American power. Reinhardt draws on methods from environmental, medical, and political history to interpret the global eradication effort as an extension of U.S. technological, medical, and political power. This book demonstrates the far-reaching manifestations of American liberalism and Cold War ideology and sheds new light on the history of global public health and development.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-2510-2
    Subjects: Health Sciences, History, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Abbreviations and Acronyms
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. INTRODUCTION Dark Winter
    (pp. 1-18)

    In June 2001, Andrews Air Force Base hosted an unusual role-playing game that featured a surprising lead actor. Developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies, the two-day exercise, called Operation Dark Winter, meant to test U.S. preparedness for a major “biological attack on the American homeland.”¹ Participants brought their backgrounds in politics, the military, and medicine to play different roles in the exercise; among them were retired senator Sam Nunn, who became, for a day, the president of the United States (very likely fulfilling a lifelong fantasy); Dr. Margaret Hamburg, assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at...

  6. 1 BECOMING A SUITABLE CANDIDATE FOR GLOBAL ERADICATION
    (pp. 19-51)

    In the spring of 1947, smallpox struck an unprepared New York City.¹ Eugene Le Bar arrived in Manhattan on March 1, six days after boarding a bus in Mexico City, where he worked as an importer. Le Bar was on his way to Maine, but during the course of the bus ride, he developed a headache and unusual rash and decided to pause in New York for some rest, sightseeing, and shopping. Four days after arriving, the stricken traveler checked into Bellevue Hospital with a cough and rash; the frightened staff quickly transferred him to Willard Parker Hospital, where doctors...

  7. 2 A GLOBAL GREAT SOCIETY AND THE U.S. COMMITMENT TO ERADICATION
    (pp. 52-85)

    On May 19, 1965, the WHA passed Resolution WHA18.38, which devoted the assembly and its administrative body (the WHO) to “the world-wide eradication of smallpox.” Previous assemblies had made similar such declarations in vague (and unfunded) support of the eradication program proposed by the USSR in 1958, but this particular resolution had a very important sponsor. The day before the vote, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his support for smallpox eradication, signaling a shift in the U.S. approach to smallpox and international health. Americans could no longer rest easy behind their quarantine lines, Johnson warned, for “as long as smallpox...

  8. 3 THE CDC AND SMALLPOX ERADICATION IN WEST AND CENTRAL AFRICA
    (pp. 86-123)

    In January of 1967, twenty-four-year-old Tony Masso departed for Niger, anxious to begin a mission he did not entirely understand. Masso had learned about the CDC’s SMP just a few months earlier, when he saw an advertisement in a newsletter for former Peace Corps volunteers. Having recently returned from a stint in Panama, Masso says he “was interested in continuing my international experience, learning another language,” and, he adds, “doing something good.” The SMP sounded like the right fit—“I also thought it was a good thing to do in the ’60s instead of going to Vietnam,” Masso notes—so...

  9. 4 MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING AND THE FINAL PHASE OF ERADICATION
    (pp. 124-158)

    On October 30, 1972, sixty-five participants in the WHO’s SEP from India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal gathered in New Delhi to discuss the future of smallpox eradication. They listened patiently to the opening remarks by Professor D. P. Chattopadhyaya, India’s state minister for health, family planning works, housing and urban development, who lamented continuing problems with smallpox in Bangladesh caused by “unfortunate happenings” (a reference to the recent wars that led to Bangladeshi independence), listed in exhaustive detail the Indian states and districts with the highest rates of smallpox and wished the participants “all success in your deliberations.” D. A....

  10. 5 A SUITABLE CANDIDATE FOR GLOBAL TERROR
    (pp. 159-189)

    In the spring of 2002, smallpox reappeared in the United States in the season eight finale of the popular television medical dramaER. The episode, titled “Lockdown,” begins with a worried couple checking their two children into the emergency room of County General Hospital in Chicago. For a little more than a week, the children had suffered from a fever, but a strange rash, concentrated on their extremities, had recently erupted, and their parents decided to check with a doctor. The parents thought it might be a particularly bad case of chickenpox or perhaps an allergic reaction. But Dr. Carter,...

  11. EPILOGUE Celebrating a Complicated Legacy
    (pp. 190-200)

    Directly in front of the WHO’s headquarters in Geneva stands a confident marker of humanity’s only complete triumph over disease. Installed in May 2010, the Welsh artist Martin Williams’s bronze statue features four people and a needle in commemoration of the SEP. Three standing figures, probably a mother, father, and child, wear simple clothing and sandals, and the artist intended for the father’s face to look African, the mother’s Asian, and the child’s nondescript. The fourth figure’s face is also ambiguous—perhaps European—and he wears shoes rather than sandals. He kneels with bifurcated needle in hand, ready to prick...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 201-238)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 239-260)
  14. Index
    (pp. 261-268)