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"So why did they burn the bodies?" Claudia wonders.

William is quiet a moment. "Because Captain Torvey knew what would happen if the Inuit found the bodies."

"You can get smallpox from a dead person?" you ask. Then you remember the fax from the CDC. "Even today?"

"They tell me the virus is pretty rugged, eh?" William says. "They're taking no chances. If you heard how smallpox rips through a population with zero immunity, you'd understand. Ever read about what happened to the Native Americans? Today the whole earth is a population with zero immunity."

"Which is why the Swedish report said the pathogen was unknown," Claudia reasons. "They eliminated smallpox in Sweden over a hundred years ago."

"No wonder the standard test didn't pick it up," you say.

"Isn't that one of the rules of life?" William says. "'The standard test never picks anything up.'"

An Access Excellence Science Mystery sponsored by Genentech, Inc.
Copyright © 1997 Genentech, Inc.; all rights reserved.


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