The Smallpox Threat is Declared Over - This Day, October 26, 1979

I've never known anyone who suffered and died from Smallpox a fatal disease.

A young child with Smallpox (fatal)

Then again, I've never known anyone with Malaria or Leprosy or the dreaded Flesh-Eating disease. 

But... almost everyone knows someone who has died of AIDS, or Breast Cancer. Newer fatal diseases.


The only human disease to have been eradicated.

Have you known anyone?

It's one of those contagious, infectious diseases unique to humans, two virus, Variola Major and Minor. Said, to have killed more people than all other infectious diseases combined,
300 million people.

The name in Latin, Varius means spotted. It took on the name of Smallpox only to distinguish it from another great pox, during the 15th century called, 


Smallpox was first contacted in humans around 10,000 BC. Ramses V of Egypt is the earliest case discovered. There were others you might recognize, Sitting Bull, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson. They had the disease but didn't die. Several relatives of Henry VIII, his sister Margaret, Queen of Scotland, and his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves plus his two daughters and his niece Mary, Queen of Scots. His son died, after recovering from the disease. His only male heir.

The Smallpox Virus,
magnified thru the lens of a microscope.

Smallpox was killing an estimated 400,000 European people per year. Mortality rate was 30 - 35 %, so you can guess how many were infected.  In the millions!

As recently as 1967 The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated at least 15 million people contacted the disease that year alone and 2 million died.

Extreme measures were enforced. Martial Law in some places, forcing quarantine, surveillance and containment. 

The disease was eradicated off the face of the planet by this day on October 26, 1979 after an exhaustive global continuing campaign to vaccinate the masses, in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

The last case of Smallpox in the United States was in 1949, a year before I was born and the last case in the world 1977. Samples of the disease still exist, in laboratories around the world. 

Now, word out is Smallpox can be used as a bio-terrorist weapon. Gads!!!

I don't remember ever meeting anyone that suffered from Smallpox, but I remember, Polio. That disease was rampant when I was a kid, you don't see that anymore either. 

I have a story about Polio. It will be in another blog.

Dog Brindle

For more info: Smallpox  World Health Organization

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