Smallpox: Background information when reading I Am Pilgrim

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I Am Pilgrim

A Thriller

by Terry Hayes

I Am Pilgrim
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  • First Published:
    May 2014, 624 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2014, 624 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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Beyond the Book:
Smallpox

In I Am Pilgrim, the villain attempts to infect a large number of people with a genetically engineered version of smallpox — a deadly disease completely eradicated by 1977.

Variola Virus Smallpox is caused by the variola virus, which is believed to have been around since approximately 10,000 BCE. As it progresses, victims develop a rash which turns into pustules (hence the common name "pox"). The most common form of smallpox was caused by the virus Variola major, representing about 90% of cases with a fatality rate of about 30%. There is no cure for smallpox, only a preventative vaccine.

Smallpox is an airborne disease, with transmission occurring through direct, prolonged face-to-face contact (the Centers for Disease Control estimates it's necessary to be in contact with the infected individual for at least three hours). It can also be spread through contact with infected bodily fluid or contaminated objects such as clothing or bedding. Casual contact such as sharing a bus ride with...

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