The U.N. health agency may have decided way back in 1996 that the remaining stores of live smallpox virus--kept in facilities in Atlanta and Russia--be destroyed, but the virus has remained alive so researchers can examine it, creating vaccines and other cures. Now the U.S. has asked for the virus to stay extant for another five years for the same reason.
Humanity’s worst scourge, the smallpox virus, may finally wind up on death row in May if health officials decide to destroy the last known samples. The virus was eliminated in human populations more than 30 years ago, but several international groups want to kill any remaining virus samples stored in test tubes on two continents.
The plague begins with a fever, weepy eyes and a drippy muzzle. Dysentery and diarrhea follow, and then death by dehydration. Rinderpest sweeps through a herd quickly, and can kill half its animals in a matter of weeks. The loss of thousands or even tens of thousands of cattle can devastate a community. An outbreak in 1889 killed enough of Ethiopia’s livestock that the ensuing famine caused a third of the country to starve to death.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.