In the late 70s, the eradication of smallpox raised the hope of eliminating other infectious diseases. However the features of smallpox sets it apart from other common infectious diseases. It was easily recognized, it had no animal reservoir, it had a very effective vaccine against it and it was widely known and feared.
Now the top candidates for eradication is polio and measles. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set year 2000 as the target date for the elimination of polio throughout the world, but the virus poses a threat to the entire world as long as it exists. At present, the greatest likelihood of success seems to be with a parasitic worm. The guinea worm, predominant in hot and dry areas of Africa and Asia, causes pain and disability to around 10 million people. However this problem can be solved by providing clean water and health education to the people.
Guinea worm emerging from an infected foot
Nowadays protection against many infectious diseases is already possible through vaccines, though some of them (such as Hepatitis B) are not affordable for poorer countries.
Scientists fear smallpox return
A Science Odyssey: World Health Organization declares the eradication of smallpox on earth
Smallpox...gone but not forgotten
Dracunculiasis (Guinea Worm Disease)