DON’T YOU WISH THAT YOU
COULD STILL GET IT!!!
By: Kristen Kaehler
What is it ???
Smallpox is a contagious, disfiguring and often deadly
disease caused by the variola virus.
Once you're infected, the virus immediately begins
replicating inside your cells — first in the lymph nodes and
then in your spleen and bone marrow.
Eventually, the virus settles in the blood vessels in your skin
and the mucous membranes of your nose and throat.
When the lesions in your mouth slough off, large amounts of
virus are released into your saliva. This is when you're most
likely to transmit the disease to others.
How is it spread?
Smallpox usually requires face-to-face contact
to spread. It's most often transmitted in air
droplets when an infected person coughs,
sneezes or talks. In rare instances, airborne
virus may spread further, possibly through the
ventilation system in a building, infecting
people in other rooms or on other floors.
Smallpox can also spread through contact with
contaminated clothing and bedding, although
the risk of infection from these sources is slight.
Two main types
Less fatal, less than I% of people
who contract it actually die
Kills one-third of people who
contracted this disease
Characterized by red, pinpoint rash and
bleeding in the skin and mucous membrane.
Almost always fatal within 3 to 4 days
Same as other forms of the disease, but the
lesions never fill with pus. Skin appears
rubbery. There is bleeding in the skin and
Signs and symptoms
During the incubation period of seven to 17 days, you
look and feel healthy and can't infect others. The first
symptoms of smallpox usually appear 12 to 14 days
after you're infected.
Following the incubation period, a sudden onset of flu-
like signs and symptoms occurs. These include:
A feeling of bodily discomfort (malaise)
Severe fatigue (prostration)
Severe back pain
Sometimes vomiting, diarrhea or both
Rashes, Lesions and Pus
A few days later, the characteristics small pox appears as flat, red
Many of these lesions turn into small blisters filled with clear fluid
(vesicles) and later, with pus (pustules).
The rash appears first on your face, hands and forearms and later
on the trunk. It's usually most noticeable on the palms of your
hands and the soles of your feet. Lesions also develop in the
mucous membranes of your nose and mouth. The way the lesions
are distributed is a hallmark of smallpox and a primary way of
diagnosing the disease.
When the pustules erupt, the skin doesn't break, but actually
separates from its underlying layers. The pain can be excruciating.
Scabs begin to form eight to nine days later and eventually fall off,
leaving deep, pitted scars. All lesions in a given area progress at
the same rate through these stages. People who don't recover
usually die during the second week of illness.
No cure for smallpox exists. There is some evidence
that cidofovir — an antiviral medication normally used
to treat an infection known as cytomegalovirus (CMV)
— might prevent smallpox if it's given within a day or
two of exposure.
The smallpox vaccine itself can prevent or lessen the
severity of the disease if given within four days of
infection. But neither of these is useful once signs and
symptoms develop. For now, the best that doctors can
offer people with symptomatic smallpox is supportive
therapy and antibiotics to prevent secondary infections.
Too bad… stupid WHO
In 1967, the WHO launched a global
immunization campaign to eradicate smallpox.
At that time, millions of people died of smallpox
every year. The WHO's efforts were
remarkably effective, and the last naturally
occurring case of smallpox was reported in
1977. In 1980, smallpox vaccinations were
The United States has enough vaccine to
vaccinate everyone in the U.S.
Stocks of smallpox virus, set aside for
research purposes, are officially stored in
two high-security labs — one in the
United States and one in Siberia. This
has lead to concerns that smallpox
someday may be used as a biological
More useless info
Believed to be originated 3000 years ago in Egypt or
In some ancient cultures, smallpox was such a major
killer of infants that custom forbade the naming of a
newborn until the infant had caught the disease and
proved it would survive.
Smallpox killed Queen Mary II of England, Emperor
Joseph I of Austria, King Luis I of Spain, Tsar Peter II
of Russia, Queen Ulrika Elenora of Sweden, and King
Louis XV of France.
Blindness was another complication. In 18th century
Europe, a third of all reported cases of blindness was
due to smallpox. In a survey conducted in Viet Nam in
1898, 95% of adolescent children were pockmarked
and nine-tenths of all blindness was ascribed to
They used to confuse Chickenpox and smallpox.
Animals do not carry this disease.
Some experts say that over the centuries it has killed
more people than all other infectious diseases
combined. Worldwide immunization stopped the
spread of smallpox three decades ago. The last case
was reported in 1977.