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Looking for a New Theme for Your Nightmares:Try Smallpox

Biochemical Warefare Masks
Getty Images
Biochemical Warefare Masks

Smallpox is the only disease in human history to be eradicated through vaccination. So why on earth would anyone want to maintain disease stocks of the horrible virus in laboratories? In a word: Bioterrorism.

Smallpox is a truly horrific disease. To call it nightmarish is no exaggeration. If you're feeling masochistic take a look at the images hosted on the World Health Organization website. (Seriously: Don't say I didn't warn you.)

Right now the debate is raging over whether existing viral stockpiles should be destroyed.

The general thrust is this: On the one hand, some scientists argue that the possibility of an attack with smallpox necessitates maintaining viral stocks for continuing research into prevention and treatment; on the other hand, some argue that any advantages to maintaining the virus are outweighed by the risks—for example, the disease stock falling into the wrong hands through theft.

Either way, here's a sobering thought: "Some say the argument is moot: Smallpox could eventually be synthesized in a lab, making total eradication impossible."

Look on the bright side: It puts new allegations of continued weakness in Citigroup's mortgage portfolio into perspective, right?

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