The End of the Story?
  • Abram S. Benenson


From the earliest days of recorded history, humankind has suffered from the depredations of the smallpox virus. In 1796, Edward Jenner discovered a method for countering this implacable enemy. This weapon unfortunately was only used effectively in localized areas of the globe, while smallpox persisted in guerrilla attacks over the rest of the world, with occasional, more aggressive assaults. In 1966, the World Health Organization (WHO) mounted a coordinated global search and destroy operation, hunting and destroying the enemy in its remote hiding places. The last human casualty in this search was found in Somalia when Ali Maow Maalin developed smallpox on October 26, 1977. Over the next 2 years, intensive searches were carried out worldwide to ensure that no traces of any live virus could be found other than that which was imprisoned in deep-freeze storage in approved research laboratories. But, like other miscreants, the disease sought any opportunity to again enjoy the warmth of the human body, and 10 months later, in 1978, succeeded to escape from confinement in a Birmingham, England, research laboratory; it killed a medical photographer whose place of work was close to the smallpox laboratory; her mother was infected but survived; the promising virologist, an expert on the virus, committed suicide.(5)


Smallpox Vaccine Smallpox Virus Acute Viral Infection Human Casualty Seed Virus 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abram S. Benenson
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of Public HealthSan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA

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