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- about history of viral diseases -
Browsing recently in a local bookstore I succumbed to the allure of a small paperback called "A Field Guide to Germs" by Wayne Biddle, published 1995 by Anchor Books. The book is full of fascinating information, historical and scientific, about organisms that most of us never see but all of us are affected (and infected) by at one time or another - or more! Biddle provided the inspiration for the subject of this Science Stumper.
Between 1520 and 1570 the population of Central Mexico was reduced from 30 million to 3 million. The culprit was a disease caused by a virulent micro-organism introduced by Spaniards who arrived in Mexico with Cortes.
Four hundred years later, in the mid 1960's, a vaccine became available to control the disease through immunization.
This very infective organism still exists in many parts of the world including the US.
It is able to survive only in humans, and passes from person to person in fine, airborne droplets. What is it?
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