World’s Last Ever Smallpox Victim Was In Birmingham

“In the summer of 1978, the last known case of smallpox was reported, claiming the life of 40-year-old medical photographer Janet Parker. But how did the disease, thought to have been eradicated across the world, come to be in Britain’s second city?”

“An ancient disease in existence for thousands of years, smallpox was feared throughout the world.”

“Killing a third of those it infected, in the 20th Century alone an estimated 300 million people died from the disease.

Those who were infected but survived were often left badly scarred.

A global vaccination programme, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), was carried out to wipe out the disease and by the 1970s cases were rare.

And in 1978 the body was just about to declare it eradicated on a worldwide level.

The last place anybody expected it to break out was in the UK, which had not seen an identified case of the disease for five years before Mrs Parker. The impact of its return was felt on a global scale.”

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