Death commonly occurred between ten and sixteen days and disproportionately claimed the very young and very old. Syria Subway Map For those who did recover, all symptoms disappeared after about thirty days. Survivors, including future United States president George Washington, suffered from unsightly scarring and occasionally blindness, but they also had a lifelong immunity to the disease. While smallpox is an age-old killer, the infection rate among populations with no prior exposure to the disease approached 80 percent, with a correspondingly high mortality rate that often exceeded 50 percent.
It appeared to be more deadly among Native Countrys, with twenty-three recorded epidemics prior to 1775. These epidemics caused the destruction of entire native villages with no one left even to bury the bodies. Other factors worsened the Native Country death rate. With everyone ill, no one remained to provide sustenance. Famine and dehydration claimed victims, while healing practices took additional lives. A popular remedy for illness, the sweat bath, exacerbated the effects of a high fever. On emerging from a sweat lodge, Native Countrys would immerse themselves in the coldest and deepest part of a river. Badly weakened by the pox, many were unable to swim and drowned.
Colonists, just as desperate to find relief from the pox, also utilized sweat lodges, as well as fasting, bleeding, blistering, vomiting, and an array of medicines, including laxatives and mercury. The most effective approaches, however, were isolation and inoculation. In 1647, the Puritan settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony implemented a quarantine to keep ships from spreading the disease and later ordered a red flag to fly outside infected households. During the 1721 Boston outbreak, which had a 15 percent fatality rate, 900 of the city’s 10,700 colonists fled into the surrounding hills. Flight, although popular, did not offer the immunity of inoculation.