Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010

India's Smallpox Epidemic

Though it had long been eradicated in other parts of the world, the infectious disease smallpox raged through mid-1970s India, with more than 100,000 reported cases and at least 20,000 deaths. The illness, which is unique to humans, is caused by one of two viruses, variola minor and variola major. The disease results in a skin rash that eventually forms raised, fluid-filled blisters all over the body. The malignant and hemorrhagic forms of these lesions most often prove to be fatal. Following a period of intense eradication and monitoring by an international commission, India was declared smallpox-free in May 1975.