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variolation


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The practice invented in China about 1,000 years ago of inoculating or insufflating into the nose a small quantity of dried secretions from a smallpox vesicle. This provided some immunity to smallpox, although it apparently caused death in as many as 1 in 100 cases. The practice spread across Asia along the silk route, reaching Constantinople by the 17th century. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689–1762), the wife of the British ambassador to Constantinople, observed the practice, was persuaded of its efficacy, and introduced it in England when she returned home. It was the model for Edward Jenner's method of vaccination.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.


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