At the turn of the twentieth century, smallpox claimed the lives of two million people per year. By 1979, the disease had been eradicated and victory was declared across the globe. Yet the story of smallpox remains the exception, as today a host of deadly contagions, from polio to AIDS, continue to threaten human health around the world. Spanning three centuries, The End of Plagues weaves together the discovery of vaccination, the birth and growth of immunology, and the fight to eradicate the world's most feared diseases. From Edward Jenner's discovery of vaccination in 1796, to the early nineteenth-century foundling voyages in which chains of orphans, vaccinated one by one, were sent to colonies around the globe, to the development of polio vaccines and the stockpiling of smallpox as a biological weapon in the Cold War, world-renown immunologist John Rhodes charts our fight against these plagues, and shows how vaccinations gave humanity the upper hand.
Today, aid groups including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization have made the eradication of polio a priority, and Rhodes takes us behind the scenes to witness how soon we may be celebrating the eradication of polio.
Chapter 1: Hardly Anyone Escapes Chapter 2: The Power of the Invisible Chapter 3: Circassian Beauties and Pioneering Women Chapter 4: The Making of Jenner Chapter 5: Why Not Try the Experiment? Chapter 6: The Fourth Achievement Chapter 7: The Foundling Voyages Chapter 8: The Teeming Humanity of Nations Chapter 9: A Great and Loud Commotion Chapter 10: Completing the Picture Chapter 11: Germ Theory and the Birth of Immunology Chapter 12: Victorious Weapons against Illness and Death Chapter 13: First Light on the Mystery of Infantile Paralysis Chapter 14: Yearning to Breathe Free Chapter 15: A Great Step Forward Chapter 16: Great Themes and Dirty Little Secrets Chapter 17: The War on Influenza Chapter 18: Forged in the Crucible of War Chapter 19: Smallpox in a Land of Ancient Wisdom Chapter 20: The Final Defeat of Smallpox Chapter 21: Invisible Weapons of War Chapter 22: Benefits, Risks and Fears Chapter 23: Inspiration in the Global Village Chapter 24: A Team of Many Colors Chapter 25: The Milkmaid and the Cuckoo