Send to

Choose Destination
Bull World Health Organ. 1975;52(2):209-22.

Smallpox eradication in West and Central Africa.



The history of smallpox eradication in the 20 countries of West and Central Africa from Mauritania to Zaire is recounted, including background, evolution of strategy, assessment, maintenance, costs, and significance of the campaign. Smallpox was endemic in these countries, peaking each year at the end of the spring dry season, usually occurring in isolated villages only periodically. The average case fatality was 14.5%, but twice as high in infants and older adults. Clinical exams showed that those with actual vaccination scars rarely got smallpox. The campaign was made feasible because of lyophilized heat-stable vaccine and bifurcated needles or jet injectors. The initial strategy called for mass vaccination and assessment of achieved vaccination. Between 1967 and 1969 100 million persons were vaccinated at collecting points; by 1972, 28 million more children had been protected. In 1966 an outbreak of 34 cases in Nigeria was blocked within 3 weeks of initiation of surveillance and containment. This effort also demonstrated that actual smallpox transmission was slow and relatively ineffective, and further that vaccination of contacts even after exposure was effective. The strategy was replaced by surveillance-containment begun in the seasonal low. The results were that smallpox disappeared within 5 months in an area of 12 million, and within 1 year in 19 of the 20 countries. Maintenance vaccination to prevent importation of the virus is continuing. The cost of the program was $15 million to the U.S. sponsors, or 1/10 the yearly price of smallpox control in the U.S.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center