Chronology of the eradication campaign

1972-1973:  Intensive campaign in endemic Indian states

October 1972: The Indian states are divided into two categories:  endemic and non-endemic. The endemic states receive the highest priority and the majority of available resources.  State Surveillance Teams are created in urgent areas.

November 1972: The final phase of the Global Smallpox Eradication Programme is announced.  In India, the target is to reduced the incidence of smallpox incidence to zero during the course of the next two smallpox seasons.

June - December 1973:  A special intensified campaign is launched in June. The first phase takes place in July and August in the urban areas.  The second phase, occurs from September to December.  The country-wide second phase has a special emphasis on the four major endemic states:  Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

1974:  Further intensification and expansion of the program.

January 1974:  The Direction-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) agrees to make available $900,000 to augment existing resources. More WHO epidemiologists are deployed in India. During 1974, at any given time, approximately 100 national and international epidemiologists are working in the field, primarily in the heavily affected areas.

May 1974: The number of smallpox outbreaks peaks with 11,000 new cases reported in a single week.

January 1975:  Launch of Operation Smallpox “Target Zero”. Containment of all suspected smallpox cases and chickenpox deaths is undertaken pending definitive diagnoses.

7 April 1975:  The theme of World Health Day, “Smallpox - Point of No Return” coincides with an all-India search operation that lasts until 14 April 1975.

May 24, 1975:   The last known Indian smallpox patient, a 30-year-old female, is identified.

July 5, 1975:  An independent assessment report proclaims that there is no evidence of smallpox after 5 July 1975.

April 1977:  Two year search and active surveillance activities confirm that India is free of smallpox.

December 1979:  Smallpox is officially eradicated from the planet.


Pakistan, India, Bangladesh: Number of smallpox outbreaks by district in June 1974.


Pakistan, India, Bangladesh: Number of smallpox outbreaks by district in December 1974.


Total of outbreaks in India during the years 1974 and 1975.

Zero smallpox