Ontario's Historical Plaques 


Discover Ontario's history as told through its plaques


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The Hungerford Smallpox Epidemic of 1884

Hungerford Smallpox Epidemic of 1884

Photos by contributor Sharon Pedersen - Posted August, 2010

Hungerford Smallpox Epidemic of 1884

Plaque Location

The County of Hastings
The Municipality of Tweed
At 40 Victoria Street North
on the grounds of the Tweed and Area Heritage Centre


Coordinates: N 44 28.521 W 77 18.650

Map

Plaque Text

The viral disease of smallpox - widespread in 19th century Ontario - flared up in a severe epidemic in Hungerford Township in 1884. The outbreak claimed at least 45 lives in 202 reported cases and disrupted economic activity and family life for many more. Local efforts by municipal authorities and private physicians were initially unable to halt the disease, and its wider spread throughout the province seemed likely. The newly established Provincial Board of Health and its hired officers swiftly undertook fumigation, enforced isolation and mass vaccination. The disease was contained, proving the value of public health measures applied consistently under coordinated direction. The Hungerford experience demonstrated the importance of quality vaccine, reliable supplies and skilled vaccinators. The Board's actions in 1884 transformed Ontario's approach to disease control when over 400 local boards of health were formed to assist in the delivery of essential medical services. As a result, Ontario earned an international reputation as an aggressive and innovative public health advocate during the mid-1880s.

Related Ontario plaque
The Ontario Vaccine Farm

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