Smallpox has been characterized in Mali by a long term cycle in which epidemic peaks occurred every 5 to 7 years. Such peaks have not been seen in recent years due to the higher population immunity levels established through mass vaccination programmes. Smallpox is a dry season disease which spreads very slowly among susceptibles in this part of Africa, and in recent years has been a disease of children because of the high levels of immunity present among the older age groups. Among nomads, however, who were infrequently vaccinated in the past, the age distribution of the disease was similar to the age distribution of the population. The role of nomads in maintaining smallpox transmission in Mali is discussed. The overall mortality for the disease in 1967-1969 was 5-7%. Smallpox transmission was effectively interrupted in Mali in early 1969 as a result of an energetic national smallpox eradication programme which forms part of a regional West African effort in which 20 states are participating. © 1972 Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.
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