World Health Org. Date retrieved: July 21, 2005: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheet/smallpox/en/print.html
The Vaccination and Eradication of Smallpox Smallpox, a disease caused by the variola virus, has devastated humanity for many centuries. Because of its high mortality rate, civilizations around the world sought to protect themselves from this disease. Throughout the 1700's, these protective methods became more sophisticated, and led up to Edward Jenner’s vaccination method in 1796. Indeed, the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control and the Agency for International Development began a joint program to eradicate smallpox in 1967. It utilized methods of mass vaccination, surveillance, and containment.
One of these scourges was smallpox, a highly infectious and deadly disease that causes boils to sprout on the entire body. Once endemic to the entire world, it has been wiped out with mass vaccination efforts by the World Health Organization with the last reported case being in 1977 in Somalia (Tucker 118). The threat of the virus still looms over us, however, with the advent of the age of terrorism. Its transmission method (human to human), the lack of effective treatment, its high mortality rate, and its ease of weaponization has compelled the Centers for Disease Control to classify it as a Category A bioterrorist agent with the highest potential for use as a weapon against civilians (Ryan 41). The smallpox disease is caused by the Variola virus, a virus of the Orthopox family, which also includes cowpox, monkeypox, and other related diseases (Tucker 5).
Illnesses have long haunted the human race. As long as these illnesses have existed, humans have developed ways to cure themselves, beginning with simple herbs and proceeding as far as vaccines and complex medicines. One cure that long eluded scientists was that of the influenza virus. Now, the influenza vaccine, or flu shot, saves thousands of lives a year and helps prevent serious complications resulting from influenza infection. At no time was a search for the cure for influenza more frantic than after the devastating effects of the pandemic of 1918.