Montreal is typically dirty in the spring when the snow melts, revealing piles of garbage and animal waste; the increasing number of smallpox sufferers makes the situation worse. Low sanitation levels do not necessarily contribute to the smallpox outbreak, but the sight and stench of garbage causes the public to protest. After a summer of outdoor events and large crowds, the smallpox outbreak reaches a fever pitch in August, and on September 14th, it is recognized as an epidemic.
In October, 1,284 people die from smallpox, and the end is nowhere in sight. At the beginning of November, roughly 5,000 cases of smallpox are reported by the Citizens’ Committee. Immunizations are now being carried out in a massive sweep across the city, and those who refuse are warned that they could face fines. Sanitation companies work at full capacity for months on end, cleaning up dead animals and refuse, and burn it in large incinerators. City leaders are criticized for their use of the vaccine, and isolation of the sick, which leads to riots in the city streets by terrified and outraged citizens. By mid-December, the public is offered two options: accept vaccination or pay a fine. Thankfully, the spread of the virus slows, and on May 21st of 1886, the last case of smallpox is recorded.