Rahima Banu

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

In 1975, three-year-old Rahima Banu contracted the last known case of naturally occurring Variola major smallpox.

Rahima Banu Begum (Bengali: রহিমা বানু বেগম; born 16 October 1972)[1] is the last known person to have been infected with naturally occurring Variola major smallpox, the more deadly variety of the disease.[2][3]

The disease[edit]

The case was reported on 16 October 1975,[4] when Banu was three years old,[5] and living in the village of Kuralia on Bhola Island in the Bangladesh district of Barisal.[6] Her case was reported by an eight-year-old girl, Bilkisunnessa,[7] who was paid 250 taka.[8] Information on the case was forwarded via telegram to D.A. Henderson, who led the World Health Organization's (WHO) campaign to eradicate the disease.[9] The WHO team arrived and cared for Banu, who made a full recovery. On 24 November 1975 she was declared free of the virus.[10] Scabs of the virus from her body were transferred to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) office in Atlanta, where they are currently stored along with hundreds of other samples.[11] Everyone on the island who might have come into contact with the infected were vaccinated, while the island was searched to find others who might still be infected.[12] The strain from her sample is known as Bangladesh 1975 formally and the Rahima strain informally.[13]

Later life[edit]

Banu created income for her family by posing for photos.[14] In an interview in 2009, Banu said she had four children after marrying a farmer at the age of 18. She said that villagers and her in-laws treated her poorly because she had suffered from smallpox.[15][16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Goodfield, June (1 January 1991). A Chance to Live. Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 4. ISBN 9780025446557.
  2. ^ Tucker, Jonathan B. (9 December 2016). Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox. Grove Press. p. 112. ISBN 9780802139399.
  3. ^ Pendergrast, Mark (1 January 2010). Inside the Outbreaks: The Elite Medical Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 157. ISBN 0151011206.
  4. ^ Hopkins, Donald R. (15 September 2002). The Greatest Killer: Smallpox in History. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226351681.
  5. ^ Huber, Peter (12 November 2013). The Cure in the Code: How 20th Century Law is Undermining 21st Century Medicine. Basic Books. ISBN 0465069819.
  6. ^ Kelley, Bob (16 February 2015). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Arcadia Publishing. p. 62. ISBN 9781439649466.
  7. ^ Goodfield, June (August 1985). Quest for the Killers. Birkhauser. ISBN 978-0-8176-3313-4. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  8. ^ Image caption of U.S. Centers for Disease Control Public Health Image LibraryC image number 7762
  9. ^ Henderson, D.A. (15 October 2010). "Interview with D.A. Henderson, sourced at History of Vaccines website". College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Archived from the original on 7 October 2010. Retrieved 15 October 2010.
  10. ^ Joarder, A. Kashem; Tarantola, D.; Tulloch, J. (1 January 1980). The eradication of smallpox from Bangladesh. World Health Organization, South-East Asia Regional Office. p. 48. ISBN 9789290221081.
  11. ^ McKenna, Maryn (17 June 2008). Beating Back the Devil: On the Front Lines with the Disease Detectives of. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781439104958.
  12. ^ Preston, Richard (1 January 2003). The Demon in the Freezer. Random House. p. 91. ISBN 9780345466631.
  13. ^ Felker, Clay (1 January 2000). The Best American Magazine Writing 2000. PublicAffairs. p. 82. ISBN 158648009X.
  14. ^ Kotar, S. L.; Gessler, J. E. (12 April 2013). Smallpox: A History. McFarland. p. 374. ISBN 9780786468232.
  15. ^ "Asia Marks 30 Years since World Declared Free of Smallpox". Voice of America. 2 November 2009. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  16. ^ See also Image caption of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Image Library image number 7765
  17. ^ Garrett, Laurie (31 October 1994). The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance. Macmillan. p. 45. ISBN 9781429953276.

External links[edit]