Until today smallpox is the only human disease that has been successfully eradicated.The eradication of smallpox is therefore a major success story for global health for several reasons: it was a disease that was endemic and caused high mortality rates across all continents; but was also crucial to advances in the field of immunology as the smallpox vaccine was the first successful vaccine to ever be invented.
Until it was wiped out, smallpox had plagued humanity for at least 3000 years, killing 300 million people in the 20th century alone. The last known endemic case of smallpox was reported and the outbreak promptly contained in Somalia in 1977.
Smallpox is a very serious, contagious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a virus (variola); it characteristically includes skin lesions and scabs that, at times, have been confused for chickenpox. The disease occurs only among humans and is passed from person to person. Smallpox can cause a severe rash over the whole body that can leave scars.
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