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Milestones in the eradication of smallpox

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011; 9:41 AM

With officials debating whether to destroy the remaining specimens of the pathogen, here is a look at notable dates in smallpox history:

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1796: Edward Jenner invents a smallpox vaccine.

1966: The World Health Organization (WHO) launches a massive global campaign to eradicate smallpox.

1972: Smallpox vaccinations are discontinued in the United States.

1975 and 1977: The last cases of the two known variants of smallpox occur in the world, in Bangladesh and Somalia.

1978: Two people are sickened in a lab accident in England; one dies.

1980: The WHO declares smallpox eradicated.

1991: Smallpox virus DNA is mapped.

1999: The WHO sets this deadline, by which remaining lab stocks of the virus are to be destroyed. The deadline will be postponed again and again.

2003: Millions of doses of vaccine are produced to hedge against a biological attack.

2011: WHO's decision-making body will meet in May to again vote on whether to kill the remaining live viruses.

SOURCES: "Smallpox Zero," by Jonathan Roy; CDC


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