The UK Smallpox Outbreak

of 1961/1962


Smallpox was all but eradicated in the UK by the late 1930s when an outbreak occurred in Bradford in December of 1961.

 The result was 14 confirmed cases of smallpox, 6 deaths from the disease and vaccination of around 250,00 people.


The smallpox vaccine as introduced by Edward Jenner in 1796 was the first successful vaccine against a contagious disease to be developed.

It had long been noted that sufferers of the relatively mild cowpox had an immunity to the deadly smallpox.  Jenner inoculated pus from cowpox blisters into his patients.  This method was adopted until the modern vaccine was produced in the 19th century.

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