The Rise and Fall of Smallpox

Emma | 12 - 07 - 2020

Smallpox is caused by the variola disease which is highly contagious. Some 12,000 years ago during the agricultural settlements it first infected the humans worldwide. Then it was eradicated by vaccination in the year 1980. Then there was no trace of the virus, the last outbreak was in 1949 in the United States.


Smallpox killed three out of ten people and was considered one of the most deadly diseases for a thousand of years. The origin of the variola virus and the particular time of the spread is still uncertain. The World Health Organization considers two theories: humans were infected by variola like virus from the rodents or by a proto variola mutated into the disease we now know as the smallpox virus.

How Long Did Smallpox Outbreak Last?
  • A. 2000 years
  • B. 99 years
  • C. 3000 years
  • D. 1900 years

Causes of Smallpox and How It Is Transmitted:  

  • Infection by the smallpox virus can lead to blindness, in the corneal ulcerations.


  • The virus can be transmitted through air by droplets, when the infected person coughs or sneezes.


  • Release of smallpox is a remote threat, it can be used as a terrorist weapon potentially.


  • Stockpiling smallpox vaccines is the best precaution measure to stop this threat.


  • Smallpox can spread through contact with the affected person’s clothes, but the risk of infection from these sources is less common.

Symptoms of Smallpox:

  • Headache
  • Severe back and body pain
  • Nausea
  • Severe fatigue
  • High fever or fever all time
  • Overall discomfort

Eradication of Smallpox:

In 1967, The World Health Organization (WHO) started a worldwide campaign to eradicate smallpox. It was accomplished in 10  years due to the vaccination. The last endemic case of the smallpox virus happened in 1977. Later in the year 1980, the World Health Assembly declared the world free of smallpox. This is a true success and accomplishment to the scientists and the people.

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