Notes: Episode 20, Smallpox (Part 2)

As with every show, I’ll list any corrections or clarifications here. If there’s anything I’ve overlooked, please contact me by email or in the comments and I’ll edit the notes to reflect the new information.


10:48 – We’re talking about something often called Friendship Bread. It’s not always the safest recipe because it lasts so long, so practice responsible kitchen procedures if you ever want to make it, but basically you get some dough, “feed” it so it grows, take part and make some bread, then take the other part and give it to a friend. It’s kind of cool and reasonably tasty. If this interests you at all, here’s a starter recipe I found.

28:20 – I talked a bit more about Chinese medicine in the last episode, but I wanted to mention here that their rationale for lengths of time had nothing to do with an understanding of the environmental survivability of contagious materials. Chinese understanding of the length of time to keep scabs before use came from trial and error, but their explanations of why it varied through the seasons was still based in their system of yin/yang balance and five elements balance within the human body. Therefore, their explanation of the length of time had more to do with ensuring the proper balance of these components than any real understanding of biology.

29:08 – It looks like there were ten actual cases of ebola in the United States in 2014, with several hundred people monitored for having potentially come in contact with the disease. Only two people died. I focus on the United States not because I’m not aware of or don’t care about the crisis in Africa that is ongoing, but rather because of the unusually high media coverage and public concern within the United States considering the actual numbers involved. This is one of those things where people are more likely to die by being crushed by a vending machine; it’s hardly a danger to as much as 2% of the general population, which is where this started.

49:38 – 1798 was correct for Jenner’s publication of “An Inquiry Into The Causes And Effects Of The Variolae Vaccinae”.

57:28 – Mary Mallon, known as Typhoid Mary, was first identified as a carrier in 1907. She didn’t believe herself to be one and returned to cooking, creating a second series of outbreaks in 1915. Her story is actually rather sad; public health officials forced her into quarantine until she died in 1938. She could also have had her gallbladder removed, which would have made her far less infectious, but refused the surgery as well.

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