smallpox timeline

Smallpox Timeline

  • 568 – Ethiopian troops carry smallpox to Africa after a fighting siege in Mecca.
  • 735 – Smallpox outbreak killed as much as one-third of Japan.
  • 7th century – Smallpox spreads from the Middle East to Africa, Portugal, and Spain.
  • 11th century – The Crusades spread smallpox throughout Europe.
  • 1520 – The conquistadors under Hernan Cortes lose in a fight against the Aztecs (in what is modern-day Mexico), but the dead Spanish soldiers left behind in the fighting spread smallpox to the Aztecs. When Cortez returns the following year. As much as 25% of the Aztec empire’s population is wiped out and the military decimated.
  • 1527 – The leaders of the Inca empire died to smallpox and civil war results which allows the Spanish to conquer the empire. In the next few years, smallpox wiped out 60-90% of the Inca population.
  • 1561 – Smallpox reaches Chile and wipes out much of the local population.
  • 1619 – Ninety percent of the Massachusetts Bay Indians are wiped out by a smallpox outbreak.
  • 1702 – A smallpox outbreak in Quebec City, Canada results in one-quarter of the city’s population dying.
  • 1713 – Smallpox outbreak in South Africa kills both locals and white settlers.
  • 1714 – The Royal Society of London received a letter from Emanuel Timoni describing the practice of variolation which he witnessed in Istanbul. The letters were not convincing enough to change the practice of English physicians.
  • 1721 – Lady Mary Wortley Montagu introduced the practice of variolation to the British royal court after she and her husband lived as ambassador to the Ottomans. The practice was first demonstrated on her own children. Next, it was performed upon prisoners. By 1722 members of the royal family submitted to the practice.
  • 1721 – A smallpox outbreak hits Boston, Massachusetts. As the people flee they spread smallpox to the surrounding colonies. The fatality rate in Boston was 14% but only 2% for those who received variolation treatment.
  • 1755 – A second smallpox outbreak in South Africa completely limits man local tribes. The outbreak spreads all the way to the Kalihari Desert.
  • 1763 – Lord Jeffrey Amherst used smallpox infected blankets as a form of biological warfare to eliminate the native Americans he was fighting. Around half a million American Indians are killed by smallpox.
  • 1767 – The third outbreak in South Africa wreaks havoc among the local tribes but the white settlers, using variolation are largely spared.
  • 1780 – Smallpox outbreak brings devastation to the Plains Indians in the US.
  • 1789 – An outbreak in Australia devastates the Aborigine population. Some estimate that as much as 50% of the coastal Aborigine population is wiped out.
  • 1796 – Edward Jenner develops the first version of a vaccination. He used cowpox vaccination to create immunity to smallpox.
  • 1802 – Valentine Seeman introduced Jenner’s vaccine to the United States. He coordinated a free vaccination program for the poor in New York City.
  • 1807 – Bavaria declared Jenner’s smallpox vaccination mandatory.
  • 1810 – Denmark made smallpox vaccination mandatory
  • 1811 – Smallpox epidemic in Ethiopia and Sudan
  • 1828 – Smallpox outbreak in New South Wales, Australia.
  • 1831 – It is estimated that as much as 80% of the Griqua tribe in southern Africa is wiped out by smallpox.
  • 1832 – The US government establishes a smallpox vaccination program for American Indians.
  • 1838 – Smallpox epidemic in Ethiopia and Sudan
  • 1849 – In Calcutta, India 13% of all deaths were due to smallpox. Twenty-five thousand, or one-third of the local population, is wiped out.
  • 1865 – A smallpox outbreak in the area of Angola is triggered by Portuguese settlers.
  • 1869 – Smallpox epidemic in Ethiopia and Sudan
  • 1870 – Smallpox outbreak in Northern Territory and Northern Western Australia.
  • 1875 – The Franco-Prussian War triggered a smallpox pandemic that killed nearly half a million in Europe.
  • 1879 – Smallpox epidemic in Ethiopia and Sudan.
  • 1887 – Smallpox epidemic in Ethiopia and Sudan.
  • 1890 – Smallpox epidemic in Ethiopia and Sudan.
  • 1901 – The last major smallpox outbreak in the US occurs in Boston. For three years the disease raged with a 17% mortality rate. Mandatory vaccines were initiated and the case which resisted these vaccines on the grounds it violated personal civil liberties was fought and lost all the way to the Supreme Court in 1905.
  • 1913 – Smallpox outbreak in New Zealand.
  • 1949 – The last case of wild smallpox in the US.
  • 1967 – World Health Organization launched a campaign to eradicate smallpox globally. There were 2 million deaths around the world to smallpox that same year.
  • 1977 The last case of wild smallpox in the world.
  • 1980 The World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated

Learn more about smallpox and other diseases, outbreaks, and pandemics that threatened human civilization throughout history in our special podcast series: Plagued: Humanity’s History with Disease, Outbreaks, and Pandemics.

history with disease history of pandemic history of outbreaks history of pestilence

christian podcast