Smallpox- the Death of a Disease by D. A. Henderson
The Inside Story of Eradicating a Worldwide Killer

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For more than 3000 years, hundreds of millions of people have died or been left permanently scarred or blind by the relentless, incurable disease called smallpox. In 1967, Dr. D.A. Henderson became director of a worldwide campaign to eliminate this disease from the face of the earth.

This spellbinding book is Dr. Henderson’s personal story of how he led the World Health Organization’s campaign to eradicate smallpox—the only disease in history to have been deliberately eliminated. Some have called this feat "the greatest scientific and humanitarian achievement of the past century."

In a lively, engrossing narrative, Dr. Henderson makes it clear that the gargantuan international effort involved more than straightforward mass vaccination. He and his staff had to cope with civil wars, floods, impassable roads, and refugees as well as formidable bureaucratic and cultural obstacles, shortages of local health personnel and meager budgets. Countries across the world joined in the effort; the United States and the Soviet Union worked together through the darkest cold war days; and professionals from more than 70 nations served as WHO field staff. On October 26, 1976, the last case of smallpox occurred. The disease that annually had killed two million people or more had been vanquished–and in just over ten years.

The story did not end there. Dr. Henderson recounts in vivid detail the continuing struggle over whether to destroy the remaining virus in the two laboratories still that held it. Then came the startling discovery that the Soviet Union had been experimenting with smallpox virus as a biological weapon and producing it in large quantities. The threat of its possible use by a rogue nation or a terrorist has had to be taken seriously and Dr. Henderson has been a central figure in plans for coping with it.

New methods for mass smallpox vaccination were so successful that he sought to expand the program of smallpox immunization to include polio, measles, whooping cough, diphtheria, and tetanus vaccines. That program now reaches more than four out of five children in the world and is eradicating poliomyelitis.

This unique book is to be treasured—a personal and true story that proves that through cooperation and perseverance the most daunting of obstacles can be overcome.

About D. A. Henderson

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D. A. Henderson, MD is currently professor of medicine and public health at the University of Pittsburgh and a distinguished scholar at the Center for Biosecurity in Baltimore. He is a professor and former dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. He served as Life Sciences Adviser to President G. H. W. Bush and was the first director of the newly created Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness in the Department of Health and Human Services. He is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science plus many other awards. He has received the Japan Prize and has been knighted by the King of Thailand.
Published September 25, 2009 by Prometheus Books. 334 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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In his introduction, The Hot Zone author Preston points to the fact that ""in smallpox's last hundred years,"" 1879-1979, it killed more people than ""all the wars on the planet during that time."" For more than 50 years, doctor and public health expert Henderson combated the disease, first as di...

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Monsters and Critics

Henderson became director of a worldwide campaign to eliminate this disease from the face of the earth.This spellbinding book is Dr. Henderson\'s personal story of how he led the World Health Organization\'s campaign to eradicate smallpox the only disease in ...more After suffering the scour...

Jul 20 2009 | Read Full Review of Smallpox- the Death of a Dise...

Science News

Thanks to the WHO effort, whole generations now refer to smallpox only in the past tense — with one caveat: In the book’s final section, Henderson describes the use of live smallpox in bioweapons research in the Soviet Union even after the disease was eradicated.

Nov 06 2009 | Read Full Review of Smallpox- the Death of a Dise...

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May 27 2009 | Read Full Review of Smallpox- the Death of a Dise...

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