Wednesday, September 4, 2013

World's Last Naturally-Occurring Case of Smallpox

Until the disease was eradicated by a vaccine in 1979, humans had been affected by this life-altering virus for centuries. Of those infected, Smallpox killed up to 60% of adults and nearly 80% of children, leaving survivors disfigured with scarring and often blind.

The world's last victim of the naturally-occurring Smallpox virus was Rahima Banu of Bangladesh, who was two years-old when she contracted the disease in October of 1975. Once the World Health Organization was notified, Banu received the vaccine and was completely cured. She married at age eighteen, had four children, and is still alive today.

Sadly, Janet Parker, a medical photographer at the University of Birmingham Medical School in the UK was not so fortunate. When Janet contracted a lab-generated version of the Smallpox virus in 1978 she became the World's Last person to die from the disease.

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