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Rethinking the History of Smallpox in the Early Twentieth Century: The SS Korea and Uncertainty Surrounding the Diagnosis of Smallpox
- Rethinking the History of Smallpox in the Early Twentieth Century: The SS Korea and Uncertainty Surrounding the Diagnosis of Smallpox
- Ju, Lee Hyon
- Ewha Authors
- Issue Date
- Journal Title
- KOREAN JOURNAL OF MEDICAL HISTORY
- KOREAN JOURNAL OF MEDICAL HISTORY vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 311 - 346
- smallpox; quarantine; vaccination; maritime disease control; diagnosis
- KOREAN SOC HIST MED
- AHCI; SCOPUS; KCI
- Document Type
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- This research explores the case of the 1903 smallpox outbreak on the SS Korea, a transpacific carrier making runs between Southeast Asia, East Asia, I Iawaii, and the United States. These regions were connected to a degree that no one had ever imagined through the SS Korea. Honolulu, Hawaii, was one of the most important territories in US maritime history and served as a waypoint between Asia and San Francisco on the mainland. As increasing numbers of people traveled by sea, various microbes were communicated across the Pacific Ocean. International tourists traveling across the ocean to Hawaii and the United States were alerted to infectious diseases, smallpox being one of the most significant of such diseases. The story of the SS Korea serves as an important lens through which to explore the early twentieth century transpacific world connected through Honolulu. Focusing on the spread of smallpox via international travelers, this research studies aspects of the public health system that were developed to contain smallpox infection on international ships and the application of smallpox vaccination as a method for infectious disease control. More importantly, in bringing attention to the uncertainty surrounding the diagnosis of smallpox, this research argues for the necessity of historians to build a more comprehensive medical historical context for disease control systems that includes the limits of medical science in making diagnoses of infectious diseases, the uncertainties arising from a lack of this component, and the implementation of health policies and preventative medical technologies.
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