Historic milestone underscores urgent need to invest in global health security and universal health coverage
13 December 2019 -- The World Health Organization commemorated the 40th anniversary of smallpox eradication, recognizing the historic moment on 9 December 1979 when the end of smallpox was confirmed to have been eradicated. Five months later, in May 1980, the 33rd World Health Assembly issued its official declaration that ‘the world and all its peoples have won freedom from smallpox’.
Smallpox is an acute contagious disease caused by the variola virus, a member of the orthopoxvirus family. It was one of the world's most devastating diseases known to humanity. The last known natural case was in Somalia in 1977. It was declared eradicated in 1980 following a global immunization campaign led by the World Health Organization.
Smallpox is transmitted from person to person via infective droplets during close contact with infected symptomatic people.