December 9, 1979 The World Health Organisation (WHO) certifies the eradication of smallpox, making it the first disease Man had successfully managed to control completely.
Smallpox was a highly infectious and dangerous virus that appeared among human populations in ancient times. It could be transmitted by touch or breathing and its visible symptoms included a severe rash of blisters. Overall, smallpox killed around 30 percent of the humans it infected; in the 20th century alone it claimed hundreds of millions of lives. In 1796, British doctor Edward Jenner found that inoculating people with the much milder cowpox could make them immune to smallpox. taking the Latin word for ‘cow’ (vacca), he called the inoculation method a ‘vaccine’.