On December 9, 1979, scientists announced the official eradication of smallpox. As of winter 2014, smallpox remains the only disease to have been successfully driven to extinction.
 
Smallpox was one of the most feared and deadly diseases in human history. The painful and sometimes disfiguring disease had a fatality rate of about 30%. Smallpox was a very contagious disease—some victims contracted it simply by breathing the air around an infected person.
 
Eradicating smallpox was a massive effort. There is no cure for the disease, and the vaccination process is dangerous, and sometimes deadly. The World Health Organization (WHO) began the worldwide smallpox-eradication campaign in 1958, and doctors, nurses, and health officials worked tirelessly to locate every victim. Victims and patients who came into contact with an infected person had to be vaccinated within four days of exposure.
 
Today, the smallpox virus (variola) exists only in two laboratories: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, and State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR in Koltsovo, Russia.
announce
Verb

to proclaim or make known publicly.

campaign
Noun

activities designed to achieve a social, political, or military goal.

contagious
Adjective
capable of being transmitted by contact with an infected person or object.
disease
Noun

harmful condition of a body part or organ.

eradication
Noun

total destruction.

exposure
Noun

availability of knowledge about something.

Noun

process of complete disappearance of a species from Earth.

fatality
Noun

a death.

infect
Verb

to contaminate with a disease or disease-causing organism.

locate
Verb

to find or identify a place.

massive
Adjective

very large or heavy.

smallpox
Noun

very contagious, often fatal disease wiped out with vaccination programs.

vaccination
Noun

innoculation with a vaccine, or modified microorganism, to prevent disease.

virus
Noun

pathogenic agent that lives and multiplies in a living cell.

World Health Organization (WHO)
Noun

United Nations agency responsible for health.

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