What is Smallpox?

Smallpox is an infectious disease caused by the variola virus, a member of the genus Orthopoxvirus. It is believed to have originated in India or Egypt thousands of years ago. In the 20th century, it had a mortality rate of up to 30%, with survivors often left with extensive scars and eye problems. It was declared eradicated in 1980, following successful worldwide immunization campaigns.

Symptoms of Smallpox

Initial symptoms of smallpox include fever, fatigue, and headache, followed by the development of a rash. The rash typically starts on the face and spreads to the arms and legs. The rash eventually forms small blisters filled with a fluid that worsens over time and eventually scabs over. Symptoms usually last for two to four weeks.

Treatment for Smallpox

Smallpox vaccines are the only form of treatment available. It is highly recommend to be vaccinated against smallpox before coming in contact with it. Fortunately, the vaccine has been very successful in preventing the spread of smallpox.

How is Smallpox Spread?

Smallpox is spread from one person to another through contact or through the air. Its symptoms make it easy to identify and it can quickly spread through communities. Unfortunately, it is highly contagious, with some estimates suggesting that each infected person can pass it on to between 10 and 20 people.

Prevention of Smallpox

To prevent the spread of smallpox, it is important to practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands, maintaining a clean environment, and avoiding contact with those who are infected. It is also important to get the smallpox vaccine if you are travelling to an area where it is known to be present.

Complications of Smallpox

Complications from smallpox can include permanent scarring, eye damage, and even death. Other potential complications include seizures, deafness, ulcers, and paralysis.

Key Points About Smallpox

  • Smallpox is a contagious disease caused by the Variola virus.
  • Initial symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, and a rash.
  • Smallpox can be prevented with a vaccine.
  • Complications can include permanent scarring, eye damage, deafness, ulcers, and death.
  • Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980 due to successful worldwide immunization campaigns.