Variolation: The old practice of inoculating someone with the virus of smallpox to produce immunity to the disease. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu introduced this practice into England from Turkey in 1721. Unfortunately, the identification of a suitable strain of the virus was not an exact science and grievous disease and death from variolation were not uncommon. From variola, a synonym for smallpox.
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Last Editorial Review: 10/30/2018