• Short Summary

    The last known case of smallpox outside the Birmingham, U.K. laboratory outbreak was reported in?

  • Description

    The last known case of smallpox outside the Birmingham, U.K. laboratory outbreak was reported in Somalia, in the Horn of Africa in October, 1977. This case became a landmark in medical history, because smallpox is the first communicable disease ever to be eradicated. The campaign to rid the world of smallpox was led by the World Health Organization. The International Commission for Smallpox Eradication Programme (SEP) has sent experts into the once most affected areas of Somalia and Kenya to check that the vaccination programme has been followed and to acquaint the people with the signs of this once dreaded disease.

    SYNOPSIS: If the findings of the International Commission prove completely successful, the declaration can be made that the world is entirely free from smallpox. The required two year period without a case of naturally transmitted smallpox ends this month.

    The Horn of Africa, encompassing the Ogaden region of Ethiopia and Somalia was one of the last few smallpox-ridden areas of the world when the WHO-sponsored programme began in 1971. Many of the twenty-five million inhabitants, mostly farmers and nomads living in the wildernesses of desert, bush and mountain, already were infected. The problem of chasing the disease was further hampered by warfare in the area.

    The doctor found that the women nomads are well-informed about the disease...and also about the one thousand dollars they would receive for reporting a smallpox case. The WHO were never obliged to pay this award. The only reported cases turned out to be chicken pox.

    By September 1976 the officials reported no new cases. But the optimism was short-lived. A small Ethiopian girl had infected a you nomad visitor who crossed into Somalia and infected three thousand more people.

    Although this Kenyan Border station is well-guarded by police, the frontier is open for the nomads. This kind of free wandering, and the sharing of a common water hole provides a very easy way of spreading smallpox and other diseases. The twenty-sixth of October is the date when the world may be declared free of a former widespread killer.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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