Home | Images

Prev | Index | Next
1975 India. Saiban Bibi, last case in India

Photo credit: Jay Friedman
Source: WHO Photo Library. Left: #A-11003. Right: #A-11044


Saiban Bibi, a 30-year-old Bangladeshi beggar, was the last case of smallpox in India.

She became infected in Sylhet District, Bangladesh, but was living on the Karimganj village station platform in Cachar District, Assam State, India, when she began to began to feel ill on 22 May 1976. A rash appeared on 24 May, and two days later she went to the Civil Hospital in Karimganj. The District Health Officer was notified and, accompanied by a WHO epidemiologist and the state surveillance, began an immediate investigation.

During the first 4 days of illness, the patient had lived on the station platform, begging for food. During those 4 days, 9 trains had stopped and 4535 tickets had been issued to 68 towns and cities. Railway and district health authorities joined the intensive search and vaccination activities that ensued, but no further cases were found.