• Smallpox

    Smallpox virusSmallpox is a virus that causes fever and a rash that is similar in appearance to chickenpox but much more severe. In the past, outbreaks of smallpox resulted in the death of one out of every three people infected. Smallpox was wiped out worldwide in 1978. The virus is now found only in a few research labs.

    Smallpox can be passed from person-to-person, but only when the rash is present. About two weeks after exposure, the individual becomes sick and develops a rash. There is no medicine available to treat smallpox, but there is a vaccine that can protect a person from getting smallpox and stop the spread of the disease. This vaccine protects a person even if given two to three days after exposure. Because it may have serious side effects, vaccination is only recommended if there is a smallpox attack.

    Smallpox VaccineBecause smallpox does not occur naturally anymore, any case of smallpox is reason to suspect bioterrorism. A patient with a smallpox rash would need to be kept in isolation, and family members would require vaccination to keep from getting the disease. If there were to be an identified case of smallpox, a doctor would notify public health officials, who would then investigate where the person came in contact with the virus and notify those at risk so they could get vaccinated.

    Smallpox Fact Sheet (from Lahey Clinic's Center for Infectious Diseases) - download PDF
    Smallpox Disease Fact Sheet (CDC) - download PDF
    Smallpox Vaccine Fact Sheet (CDC) - download PDF
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