The history of smallpox extends into pre-history; the disease likely emerged in human populations about 10,000 BC. The earliest credible evidence of smallpox is found in the Egyptian mummies of people who died some 3000 years ago. During the 18th century the disease killed an estimated 400,000 Europeans each year, including five reigning monarchs, and was responsible for a third of all blindness. Between 20 and 60% of all those infected—and over 80% of infected children—died from the disease.
During the 20th century, it is estimated that smallpox was responsible for 300–500 million deaths. In the early 1950s an estimated 50 million cases of smallpox occurred in the world each year. As recently as 1967, the World Health Organization estimated that 15 million people contracted the disease and that two million died in that year. After successful vaccination campaigns throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the WHO certified the eradication of smallpox in December 1979. To this day, smallpox is the only human infectious disease to have been completely eradicated.
Famous quotes containing the words history of, history and/or smallpox:
“The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more”
—John Adams (17351826)
“As I am, so shall I associate, and so shall I act; Caesars history will paint out Caesar.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“The man who would change the name of Arkansas is the original, iron-jawed, brass-mouthed, copper-bellied corpse-maker from the wilds of the Ozarks! He is the man they call Sudden Death and General Desolation! Sired by a hurricane, damd by an earthquake, half-brother to the cholera, nearly related to the smallpox on his mothers side!”
—Administration in the State of Arka, U.S. public relief program (1935-1943)