Smallpox was once found throughout the world, causing illness and death wherever it occurred. Smallpox was mainly a disease of children and young adults, with family members often infecting each other. A large program by the World Health Organization got rid of all known smallpox viruses from the world in 1977. Although the disease no longer exists, samples of the virus that caused smallpox were saved by a few governments for research purposes. This research is highly controlled and carefully monitored.
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