There are enough frightening reports in the media these days without me adding my tuppence worth but a recent report about the re-emergence of Smallpox type illnesses merits a cautionary mention.

Smallpox killed 300 to 500 million people worldwide during the 20th Century and, in the 18th Century, it did away with 400,000 people every year in Europe alone.

However, following mass vaccination programmes, medical experts felt able to announce in 1979 that the dreaded Smallpox had been eradicated.

The added protection against Monkeypox and Cowpox afforded by the vaccinations was seen as a small extra bonus as those viruses were regarded as a relatively minor problem at the time.

Vaccination then stopped and eventually people lost immunity but now medical experts are very worried because Monkeypox and Cowpox are making a comeback.

Monkeypox is more dangerous to humans than Cowpox. It typically lives in African rodents and is sharply on the increase in Africa.

The most virulent virus strain kills 10 per cent of those it infects and has shown a 20-fold increase over a 20 year period.