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Sudan 1902-3: Smallpox Delivers Both Fear And Opportunity

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Chapter Summary

January 1902 found Christopherson in Sudan. He would have known about Jenner's work on smallpox and that variolation was considered dangerous. He already had some experience of tropical medicine and of surgery from his years at the Seamen's Hospital, and from his service in the Boer War. Christopherson's two diaries from those first months-his only diaries found-show how he and others spent their long days in the Khartoum Civil Hospital, a very primitive, thirty-bed mud-brick building. Africa, and Sudan in particular, had suffered epidemics of smallpox for generations: during the Madiyyah period there had been five major epidemics, 1885, 1891, 1895 with less severe outbreaks in 1898 and 1900, all facilitated by the trans-desert trade routes and the pilgrimage routes to Mecca.

Keywords: Dr. J.B. Christopherson; Khartoum Civil Hospital; smallpox; Sudan



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