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Countdown to Zero: Smallpox

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On Exhibit posts

Small Pox C2Z
Floods, famine, and civil war nearly foiled eradication efforts in the country now known as Bangladesh. Infrastructure and security concerns are often still the biggest obstacles to disease eradication.
© World Health Organization/J. Mohr

Disease agent: The variola virus 

The threat: First-ever disease to be eradicated; the smallpox virus exists only in secure labs.

How infection spreads: From person-to-person contact, through the air, and from contact with infected bodily fluids and objects such as bedding or clothing.

Defeating the disease: The smallpox vaccine, discovered by Edward Jenner in 1796, was the world’s first vaccine. A global immunization effort began in the mid-20th century, led by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Eradication potential: Declared eradicated in 1980.

What does it take to wipe out a disease? Find out in the new exhibition Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease,  which opens on Tuesday, January 13.

The full story appears in the Winter issue of Rotunda, the Member magazine.