"I had contracted dragon pox shortly before arriving at school, and while I was no longer contagious, my pockmarked visage and greenish hue did not encourage many to approach me."
-- Elphias Doge in "Albus Dumbledore Remembered" (DH2)
Dragon Pox is a disease which afflicts wizarding folk. While the disease can be very serious, even deadly, lesser cases can clear up by themselves.
Symptoms of Dragon Pox
In its initial stages, sufferers notice a “nasty green and purple rash” between the toes and begin sneezing sparks (DP3). At this stage, Healers prescribe immersing one’s nose in ice water. If the disease advances, the patient will have greenish and pockmarked skin (DH2). Dragon Pox is highly contagious. Advanced cases can result in death.
History of Dragon Pox
Forms of the disease were known as early as the 1100s, as evidenced by the mention in writings of Goodwin Kneen (QA3). The disease is said to have originally contracted by wizards working with Peruvian Vipertooth dragons in South America (Pm), and if so, it would seem that wizards crossed the Atlantic much earlier in history than their Muggle counterparts. The first known fatality from the disease was Chauncey Oldridge who died in 1379 at the age of 37. Over the next several centuries, the disease became more widely known — and feared. In the around 1600, Healer Gunhilda of Gorsemoor tackled the problem of finding a cure. Eventually she was successful, for which she is famous even today (FW).
Victims of Dragon Pox
While the Dragon Pox cure has been available for the past 500 years, the disease still claims victims to this day. It seems to be particularly deadly for the elderly, as evidenced by this list of known fatalities:
- Draco Malfoy’s grandfather, Abraxas Malfoy, died of Dragon Pox, although Professor Slughorn doesn’t find this surprising as Abraxas was very old (HBP9).
- A popular Minister for Magic, Eldritch Diggory, died in office of Dragon Pox in 1747 before he was able to close Azkaban prison (Pm).
- American sisters Queenie and Tina Goldstein lost their parents to Dragon Pox before 1926 (WFT).
- Harry Potter’s grandparents, Euphemia and Fleamont Potter died from the disease before he was born (Pm).
Howland Coopey writes to the Daily Prophet with symptoms that Professor Helbert Spleen diagnoses as Dragon Pox, although he does state that it will go away of its own accord, rather than recommending that Mr Coopey go to St Mungo’s to get the Dragon Pox cure (DP3).
Treating this disease is a fairly common topic of discussion among wizards, and is mentioned on the Wizarding Wireless Network:
Ron spent evening after evening using his wand to beat out various rhythms on top of the wireless while the dials whirled. Occasionally they would catch snatches of advice on how to treat dragon pox, and once a few bars of “A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love.” (DH22)
Dragon pox is mentioned in the Sorting Quiz on Pottermore:
12. A troll has gone berserk in the Headmaster’s study at Hogwarts. It is about to smash, crush and tear several irreplaceable items and treasures, including a cure for dragon pox, which the Headmaster has nearly perfected; student records going back 1000 years and a mysterious handwritten book full of strange runes, believed to have belonged to Merlin. In which order would you rescue these objects from the troll’s club, if you could? (Select Order) (Pm)
Although the date printed on the third Daily Prophet Newsletter (DP3) is 1 June 1999, the timeframe for this event is 1992-1993.
From the Web
Writing by J K Rowling on Pottermore:
- Illness and Disability
- Ministers for Magic
- History of the Quidditch World Cup
- The Potter Family
- The Daily Prophet
Harry Potter Wiki: Dragon Pox