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One of the most devastating viruses known to man was first documented in Egypt In 1157 BC the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses V died suddenly from what is described as an acute illness At the time of his death he was only thirty years old and had ruled Egypt for just four years Studies on his body done by twentieth-century scientists revealed the cause of this mysterious death They found many clues that led them to believe that he had died from smallpox Throughout all of history smallpox has been a greatly feared disease responsible for huge epidemics worldwide This disease is strictly an infection of human beings animals and insects could be infected by smallpox nor carry the virus in any form Most infections were caused by contact with a person who had already developed the characteristic skin lesions of the disease however could also be contracted by contaminated air droplets Upon contraction the victim would not show signs of infection for approximately 14 days after the initial infection After this incubation period symptoms appeared abruptly and included fever and chills muscle aches and a flat reddish purple rash on the chest abdomen and back These symptoms lasted about 3 days and then subsided for about 2 days However the rash returned a few days later accompanied by a bumpy rash starting on the feet hands and face The rash progressively grew and would overcome the entire body The individual bumps would become pus-filled over the course of 2 weeks These pox would eventually scab over and leave a permanent scar when the scab dropped off Death from smallpox usually was caused by other opportunistic diseases infecting the body of a small pox patient and causing fatal complications in the weakened body With people caring for the sick and touching the open scars smallpox was transmitted from person to person and in many instances in history did so with such ease that
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