Smallpox Eradication:  A Global Appraisal

Paul F. Wehrle, MD
JAMA. 1978;240(18):1977-1979. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290180051024.
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OF ALL communicable diseases limited to man, few have the attainable prospect of complete and permanent eradication. Of those few, smallpox has provoked the greatest interest. In 1801, Jenner1 entertained the prospect of eradication soon after demonstrating the efficacy of vaccination in protecting the susceptible individual. Despite the early and continuing interest in this possibility and the control or even successful eradication in some individual countries, the first systematic international program was proposed in 1949 by Soper,2 then director of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau. Failure of the individual country efforts and increasing incidence of disease in the Americas facilitated the adoption and implementation of a resolution to approve such a program. Budgetary provision was made in 1950 by the 13th Pan American Sanitary Conference.3,4

The lessons learned in this and in the subsequent global program are important in understanding the success in the imminent total global eradication


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