Why does smallpox no longer cause pandemic outbreaks?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Before the 18th century, smallpox was a serious cause of infectious disease pandemic outbreaks. A potentially fatal illness transmitted by respiratory means, smallpox killed up to 30 percent of those infected by it. In 1796, an English physician named Edward Jenner discovered the vaccine for smallpox and, in fact, coined the term vaccine. Through vaccination, the disease was largely eradicated in the developed world by the middle of the 20th Century. Aggressive vaccination programs were subsequently undertaken in developing nations. The last naturally occurring case of smallpox was diagnosed in 1977. Since smallpox has been eradicated as a clinical disease, it no longer causes pandemic outbreaks.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.