(CDC, 1966 - 1977)
"I've found that there is an incubation period for ideas as well as for viruses."
A Doctor's Inspiration
Dr. William Foege was born in 1936 in Deborah, Iowa. Foege's interest in science was first seen growing up in Coville. "Two of the first people to stir my interest in science were Shirley and Jim Kohlsted. The Kohlsteds were just out of college, starting their own drugstore in Coville, living above the store" (Foege, 2011). Foege became an employee in the drugstore at thirteen, and filled prescriptions for customers. Years later, Foege began college at the University of Washington School of Medicine and graduated in 1961. He became a member of the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) in 1962 and was a "medical detective" that worked on malaria, typhoid, and hepatitis. In 1963, Foege received a call from D. A. Henderson, the head of the smallpox program for the CDC, that there was a suspected case in the U.S. " It wasn't smallpox, it was the herpes virus, as well as a case of pneumonia, severe thrush, and enteritis. The child was also recovering from the measles" (Foege, 2011). One month later, he returned to Atlanta, Georgia for the annual EIS conference where he learned of a Peace Corps position in India. Foege left in May of 1963 and soon developed an interest in fighting diseases throughout the world.
Dr. Foege first encountered smallpox while he was working for the Peace Corps in India. "...I made rounds at hospitals so I could begin to understand the health problems facing India. This was my first opportunity to see smallpox patients. The experience was life changing. Textbook descriptions miss the often catatonic appearance of patients attempting to avoid movement, the smell of rotting pustules that permeates the room, and the social and psychological isolation imposed by the disease" (Foege, 2011).
After India, Dr. Foege fought against smallpox in Nigeria. It was here that he created the concept of ring vaccination. "[Foege] resorted to military tactics. He spread out maps of the district. He asked a ham radio network of missionaries to seek out any cases. 'In 24 hours we had reports of every village with smallpox,' Foege says. 'Our first priority was to use vaccine in those villages - there were only three or four at first. Then we asked ourselves where would smallpox go, and followed the family and market patterns.' Smallpox has an incubation period of 14 days. Foege and others inoculated market villages and places where relatives of the first victims were living. When the disease broke out in those secondary locations, the rest of the population was already protected. 'Four weeks later, there was no more smallpox'" (Griffin, 1994).
Dr. Foege's Impact on Ethiopia
Dr. Foege not only had an impact on smallpox and the world, but also on the people around him. Vincent Radke, a surveillance officer for the Peace Corps in 1971, fought against smallpox in Ethiopia. His job was to find and report cases of smallpox, then vaccinate if necessary.
(Personal Interview with Vincent Radke, 2016)
These documents show how smallpox was tracked during 1971.