Pulling the plug on pox

J. Michael Lane, right, at the Centers for Disease Control 1980 with J. Donald Millar, left, and William H. Foege, centre, both former directors of the global smallpox eradication programme (© Wikipedia)

Smallpox is regarded as one of the most consequential of all the pestilential diseases that have plagued humanity for the past ten thousand years. One in three could die from it during an epidemic, and it left the survivors scarred and or blinded. In the 1970’s, it seemed that this terrifying disease had been wiped out, with the last case reported in 1977. However, today we live with the haunting possibility of its return in the shape of biological warfare.

Producer: Laura Durnford

Broadcast: August 20, 1999