Navigation Links
Most people believe smallpox not an extinct disease

The vast majority of Scottish people interviewed in the streets of Edinburgh are unaware of one of the greatest achievements of medical science the eradication of smallpox from the world over 40 years ago. A poll sponsored by the Society for General Microbiology (SGM), in conjunction with the Edinburgh International Science Festival, has revealed that 87% of 200 individuals questioned did not know that the horrendous, killer disease is now extinct.

But theres good news too. The study, conducted by Scotinform, showed that many people are conscious of the wide range of activities of microorganisms. Three quarters of interviewees knew that microbes are used to make medicines, while 65% knew that bacteria can live inside active volcanoes and 54% knew that they can attack North Sea oil platforms. About 44% were even aware of the role of microbes in chocolate making (where they promote the fermentation of the cacao beans).

Overall, these results are reassuring, says Dr Bernard Dixon, who will present a report of the research during a session of the SGMs Spring Meeting at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Monday 31 March. However, there are a few worries. For example, while 80% of people knew that microbes were invisible forms of life such as bacteria and viruses, this did not apply at the lowest age range. Nearly 40% of 16-24 year olds did not know what microbes are.

Particularly disquieting overall was the level of ignorance of smallpox eradication. This disease killed 300-500 million victims during the 20th century. As recently as 1967, 15 million people contracted the appalling, disfiguring infection and 2 million of them died. However, thanks to a World Health Organization campaign, based on vaccination, smallpox was declared extinct in 1979.

Scientists are often reluctant to trumpet achievements of this sort, so they themselves may be partly to blame for the level of ignorance revealed by the survey in Edinburgh (which would almost certainly have produced the same result in London or elsewhere in Britain), says Dr Dixon. But smallpox elimination is not just a piece of history. When people today reject immunisation against other killer diseases such as measles, they are often unaware of the huge impact vaccines have made in protecting us not only against smallpox but also against diphtheria, poliomyelitis and other fearful conditions.


Contact: Lucy Goodchild
Society for General Microbiology

Related biology news :

1. Plants can be used to study how and why people respond differently to drugs
2. Fungus genome yielding answers to protect grains, people and animals
3. People who skip meals: are they better off?
4. Energy drinks may pose risks for people with high blood pressure, heart disease
5. Ozone can affect heavier people more
6. Rising food prices threaten worlds poor people
7. New study finds biodiversity conservation secures ecosystem services for people
8. 100 percent of people carry at least 1 type of pesticide
9. Half of the people suffering from head injuries fake to receive financial help
10. People not always needed to alleviate loneliness
11. Gene guards grain-producing grasses so people and animals can eat
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/20/2015)... November 20, 2015 NXTD ) ... on the growing mobile commerce market and creator of ... Pereira , was recently interviewed on The RedChip ... on this weekend on Bloomberg Europe , Bloomberg ... --> NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), ...
(Date:11/18/2015)... PHILADELPHIA , Nov. 18, 2015  As new ... in children, doctors and other healthcare providers face challenges ... counsel families and patients. In addition, as more children ... into a patient,s adulthood and old age. ... The Children,s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) . ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... -- Paris , qui s,est ... Paris , qui s,est tenu du 17 ... de l,innovation biométrique, a inventé le premier scanner couplé, ... la même surface de balayage. Jusqu,ici, deux scanners étaient ... empreintes digitales. Désormais, un seul scanner est en mesure ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... -- PharmAthene, Inc. (NYSE MKT: PIP) announced  today that its ... (Rights Plan) in an effort to preserve the value ... 382 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code). ... its NOLs could be substantially limited if the Company ... of the Code. In general, an ownership change occurs ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... -- Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: NBIX ) announced today ... Neurocrine Biosciences, will be presenting at the 27th Annual ... . .   Listeners ... prior to the presentation to download or install any ... available on the website approximately one hour after the ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... The Global Genomics Industry ... and in-depth study on the current state of ... ) , The report provides ... classifications, applications and industry chain structure. The Genomics ... including development trends, competitive landscape analysis, and key ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Cepheid (NASDAQ: CPHD ) today announced ... conference, and invited investors to participate via webcast. ... December 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. Eastern Time ... December 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. Eastern Time ... York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at ...
Breaking Biology Technology: