Variolation Meaning

In the history of the ancient world different dangerous diseases were found among the people. Sometimes the disease is used to turn into a pandemic. At that time, medical Science was not much advanced. For the prevention of diseases, vaccines were not invented. Smallpox was a terrible disease in the 18th century. At that time, many people died from smallpox for lack of treatment. In England, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu invented a method so that the harm of smallpox can be reduced. This process is known as variolation. In this method, people were immunized by infecting the substances from the patients' pustules. Variolation was able to control the spread and harm of smallpox. In this article, we will discuss the variolation method in detail.


History of Smallpox

Smallpox was a dangerous infectious disease in the ancient world. In different centuries, smallpox was spread among people at different rates. In the 6th century, it was spread in China, Korea, and Japan. In the 7th century, smallpox was found among the people of Spain, Arab, Northern Africa, and Portugal. In Europe, smallpox was first found in the 11th century. With the European settlers and African slaves, smallpox was imported into South and Central America due to trading. In the 17th century, European settlers brought smallpox to North America. In the 18th century, British people spread smallpox in different countries of the world with the spread of their colonial empire. At that time, smallpox became an extremely terrible disease. Among 100% of affected people, 30% people died from smallpox. 


Invention of Variolation

In the 18th century, smallpox became an extremely terrible disease. The spread of smallpox was out of control in the world. Medical science was not much advanced at that time. There was no specific treatment for smallpox. People were dying from the disease due to a lack of treatment. Many doctors and scientists tried different ways to prevent and cure the disease. No one could find a proper treatment for the disease. In England, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu invented a method of preventing smallpox, which is known as variolation. Through this process, the people were immunized. Though it was not the treatment of smallpox, it was able to reduce the harm of the disease to an extent. Variolation was the prevention method of smallpox at that time. 


How Does Variolation Work?

Variolation is not the treatment process of smallpox. In this method, smallpox can be prevented only. Also, the harm of smallpox can be reduced through this process. People were immunized in this method by infecting the substances from the patients' pustules. After injecting the substances into the body of the unaffected people, they are infected with a mild form of smallpox (variola minor). Thus, the people are affected less dangerously and an immune system against smallpox is believed in their body. Through variolation, smallpox was prevented in the ancient world. 


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Problems of Variolation

Variolation was the only method to control the spread and harm of smallpox. Though variolation was the first prevention method of smallpox, there are some problems with the method. The problems are mentioned below.

  • Variolation is not a risk-free method. With the substances of smallpox from the patients' pustules, other harmful substances can enter into the body of the unaffected people.

  • The mild form of the disease spreads to many people and it can cause an epidemic

  • Due to the lack of sincerity of the physician, the process of variolation can dangerously harm the unaffected people. The patient can even die. 


Vaccination From Variolation

Variolation can only prevent smallpox. It is not the treatment procedure of the disease. Also, variolation can protect people from smallpox to a particular extent. In some cases, variolation was unable to protect the patient from the second attack. Therefore, a permanent treatment process of smallpox was necessary. In the 18th century, many scientists tried to bring a permanent solution to this problem. British scientist Edward Jenner used cowpox to build protection against smallpox. In 1796, he vaccinated James Phipps successfully using cowpox substances. In 1798, more vaccination was done using this process. Thus, a vaccine for smallpox was invented, which is more safe and effective than variolation. 


Did You Know?

Now, we are going to discuss some unknown facts about variolation.

  • There was a widely believed idea that cowpox can be used to immunize against smallpox.

  • Depending on the concept of variolation, British scientist Edward Jenner invented the vaccine of smallpox.

  • India and China were the first civilizations, who inoculated their children against smallpox using variolation. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is Variolation and How Does it Work?

Ans: Variolation is a prevention method of smallpox. In England, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu invented this method to prevent smallpox. In this method, people are immunized by infecting the substances from the patients' pustules. The substances are injected under the skin. After injecting the substances into the body of the unaffected people, they are infected with a mild form of smallpox (variola minor). Thus, the people are affected less dangerously and an immune system against smallpox is built in their body. This immune system protects them from the disease in the future. In the 18th century, variolation was able to control the spread and harm of smallpox.

2. How the Vaccine of Smallpox Was Invented from Variolation?

Ans: In the 18th century, variolation was the only way to prevent smallpox. At that time, variolation was able to control the spread and harm of smallpox. Variolation can protect people from smallpox to a particular extent. It is the method for preventing smallpox, not for treatment. Also, there were some problems with the procedure of variolation. In some cases, variolation was unable to protect the patient from the second attack. A permanent treatment for smallpox was necessary. British scientist Edward Jenner researched cowpox and used it against smallpox as protection. In 1796, Edward Jenner vaccinated James Phipps successfully using cowpox substances. Thus, the vaccine for smallpox was invented.