In 1796, Edward Jenner, an English country doctor found a less threatening procedure to vaccinate someone. He injected an eight-year-old boy named James Philipps with a fluid or "vaccinia" from a cowpox pustule. At first, the Royal Society rejected Jenner's paper on this type of inoculation. However, soon after publishing a book which provoked wide spread testing confirming the safeness of this method, it was won approval. Parliament awarded Jenner with $150,000 at early 19th century prices.
By 1950, North America, Central America, and Europe were free from the disease. However, there was still ten to twenty million cases a year and two million deaths. It used to be so common in Bangladesh that the word from springtime, bashunto, was also used to refer to smallpox.
A $330 million, ten year campaign first proposed by the Soviet Union in 1958 was started in 1967 to eradicated smallpox was begun. In 1975 the last incidence of wild variola major, which is the most virulent form, was cured in the three-year-old Bangladeshi girl named Rahima Banu. In 1977, the last natural occurrence of smallpox caused by variola minor occurred in a hospital worker named Ali Maow Maalin.
The germ is now stored in liquid nitrogen in about 600 one inch long test tubes in max security in the CDC in Atlanta and at the Institute for Viral Preparations in Moscow. The U.S. still stores 17 million doses of vaccine and military personnel are still vaccinated. Occasionally they catch it from the vaccination and would spread it to others. Researched have mapped its DNA sequence for future reference. There is debate as to whether to keep the last remaining samples of the disease or to destroy it in a pressure cooker at 248 degrees F for two 45-minute cycles.
People are so afraid of this disease that Russian scientists even dug up victims buried in Siberia to see if the virus was present. It wasn't.