Smallpox and its History

Timeline created by KyleBreboneria
In History
  • 1,157 BCE

    Earliest physical evidence of smallpox

    The earliest physical evidence of smallpox is the pustular rash on the mummified body of Pharaoh Ramesses V of Egypt, who died in 1157 BC. The disease continued to spread, from Egypt to India to China to Japan and then into Europe.
  • Jan 11, 1000

    China and India's solution

    In the 10th century, China and India tried to find ways to inoculate themselves from smallpox. They used variolation, which involves taking pus from the blisters of smallpox patients and injecting them into healthy people. Usually it gives them a mild case of smallpox, and then granting them a lifelong immunity to the disease. There was also a risk of death, and the inoculated patients still had the risk of passing it on to other people.
  • Smallpox and its effect on virgin populations

    Smallpox was very aggressive in communities where the population had no immunity to smallpox due to having no previous encounters with the disease. This is how the Spanish conquered the Aztecs and Incas in Mexico in the 16th century. A similar fate occurred with the aborigines in Australia in the 18th century.
  • Variolation is introduced to Britain

    Lady Mary Wortley Montagu is credited with introducing variolation in 1721. After contracting the disease, she learnt about variolation in Constantinople where her husband was the British Ambasssador. She had her children inoculated and urged the Princess of Wales to do the same.
  • Edward Jenner's breakthrough

    In 1796, Edward Jenner carried out his famous experiment. This was a form of variolation, but instead of injecting smallpox pus, he injected pus from a cowpox patient's pustule into the arm of an eight-year-old boy, James Phipps. Jenner was testing his theory, based on folklore that milkmaids can never contract smallpox after contracting smallpox. The theory proved to be a success, and Edward Jenner went down in history as the man who took down the deadly disease.
  • The New York outbreak

    In 1947, a Mexican businessmen travelled to New York City, unknowingly incubating smallpox within his body. Over a month, six million people were mass vaccinated. 12 people caught smallpox, and two of them, including the Mexican, died. Six people died from the vaccine.
  • The World Health Assembly

    In this year, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution to undertake the global eradication of smallpox.
  • The Yugoslavia outbreak

    Yugoslavia was one of the last major outbreaks in Europe. It was not diagnosed until the disease was well under way, and the communist government took a draconian approach to bring the outbreak under control. The source was from a Muslim pilgrim that went back to his village in Kosovo after visiting Mecca.
  • Last natural case of smallpox

    Ali Maow Maalin, a hospital cook in Merca, contracted the disease after never being vaccinated. In the next two weeks, fifty-four thousand people were vaccinated.
  • An accidental case of smallpox

    Janet Parker, a medical photographer at the University of Birmingham, was accidentally infected with smallpox and later died. It was initially diagnosed as a drug rash, but pustules began appearing on her body. Her mother also contracted the disease but survived.
  • To kill or not to kill?

    After Janet Parker's unfortunate death, the World Health Organization was awoken to the fact that humans are still vulnerable to the disease. This led to the agreement of smallpox only being kept in two WHO approved labs, in Russia and in America. Until today, the stocks still exist in research centers in each respective country, and there has been an ongoing debate on whether or not to destroy the stocks of the disease.
  • Period:
    1,157 BCE