World’s Strangest

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Did Columbus Bring Syphilis to Europe?

Christopher Columbus may have brought smallpox that devastated the Native American populations, but according to some scientists, they’ve got him (and those Europe colonists) back by returning the favor with syphilis: Armelagos, a pioneer of [...]

How to Wipe Out a Disease

Smallpox was the first disease to be declared completely eradicated. Last year, we told you that rinderpest, a scourge of cattle and other cloven-hoofed animals, became the second disease completely wiped from the earth by human intervention. Now you can read the story of how it was done. The long but little-known campaign to conquer rinderpest [...]

Biological Warfare in the American Revolution?

Popular culture has given us the idea that war used to be less vicious and more orderly. I don’t know about you, but when I think of the American Revolution, I can’t help but picture soldiers standing in straight single-file lines on either side of the battlefield waiting for the command to fire. It’s always [...]

An Anniversary Worth Celebrating

On October 26th, 1977, a hospital cook in Somalia named Ali Maow Maalin was diagnosed with smallpox. What makes this so remarkable is that no naturally-occurring cases of smallpox have been diagnosed in the 32 years since. The global eradication of smallpox was certified, based on intense verification activities in countries, by a commission of eminent [...]