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Eradicated Disease



Eradication is the reduction of an infectious disease in the global population to zero. Only one disease has been completely eradicated in human history and this is smallpox. Rinderpest is the only disease that has been eradicated in animals such as cows and deer.

Smallpox is caused by the variola virus, the smallpox virus. The last naturally occurring case was diagnosed in 1977 and by 1980 the world health organisation determined that this disease had successfully been eradicated. Symptoms of smallpox include fever, vomiting, mouth sores, and skin rash which then blisters and scabs leaving horrific scars. The disease was spread between people or through contaminated objects. Edward Jenner, the father of immunology discovered the smallpox vaccine in 1796. This discovery allowed for the first eradication of a disease in human history. The general public no longer needs to be vaccinated against smallpox, but the vaccine is still being produced to guard against monkeypox and biological warfare.

The earliest evidence of smallpox dates back to Egyptian mummies in 1500 BCE. In 1700, 400,000 people died from the disease each year. As smallpox is no longer a threat, routine vaccines for children and healthcare workers stopped in the late 1970s across the world. This was a safe and educated decision.

Other diseases are in the process of being eradicated these include polio and malaria, with measles, mumps, and rubella being considered to be possibly eradicable in the future thanks to modern medicine.

But what about the black plague? Surely that has been eradicated? Tune back next week.


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