1974 smallpox epidemic in India

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The 1974 smallpox epidemic of India was one of the worst smallpox epidemics of 20th century.

At least 15,000 people died of smallpox between January to May 1974, mainly in the Indian states of Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal. There were thousands who survived but were disfigured or blinded. India reported 61,482 cases of smallpox to WHO in these five months. India had over 86% of the world's smallpox cases in 1974, primarily due to this epidemic.[1] By 1980, smallpox was certified as being eradicated from the world.

It occurred during the World Health Organization's smallpox eradication program, and was important to the project because Indians considered smallpox to be a routine fact of life.[2] Donald Henderson, who was a U.S. Public Health Services Officer stationed in New Delhi, said that "If this interest and concern about ending smallpox can be maintained for the next few months, it's all over. We don't think we're overconfident, but everything looks good. By June of 1975, we hope we'll be finished with smallpox in Asia."[2]


  1. ^ http://www.smallpoxhistory.ucl.ac.uk/
  2. ^ a b