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Smallpox death rate during the Sheffield Epidemic of 1887-1888

Towards the end of the 1880s, a localized smallpox epidemic had broken out in the North of England, and had infected thousands in the region; with one news report claiming that Sheffield was responsible for three quarters of all smallpox cases in England at this time; just under 500 people died from smallpox in this pandemic. Of the entire population of Sheffield, 98 percent claimed to have been vaccinated, and (assuming these figures are correct) the death rate among cases of vaccinated people was below five percent. In stark contrast to this, cases among unvaccinated patients resulted in fatalities almost fifty percent of the time, meaning that infected persons who were not vaccinated were ten times more likely to succumb to the disease than those who had been. This ratio is similar among the infected aged above ten years, however vaccinated patients below the age of ten were 25 times more likely to survive.

Smallpox death rate among the infected during the Sheffield Epidemic of 1887 to 1888

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Release date

December 2018


United Kingdom (England)

Survey time period

1887 to 1888

Supplementary notes

The vaccination rate among inhabitants was reported as around 98 percent, and public reports confirmed that 95 percent of the Sheffield population was vaccinated at this time. In total, the 2 to 5 percent of the population that were unvaccinated sustained 274 total deaths, while the vaccinated 95 to 98 percent of the population sustained only 200 deaths.

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Statistics on "Smallpox"

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