November 3, Reviewed by: January 01, Introduction to smallpox: Smallpox long reigned as the king of dreaded contagious diseases.
Defining smallpox A contagious infection, smallpox has a somewhat devastating history. It could be easily spread once contracted, with progressive symptoms that were often disfiguring and high mortality rates.
At least a third of infections in unvaccinated individuals before resulted in deaths from the disease. The spotty rash then develops into fluid-filled lesions pustules which form a crust.
These crusted formations dry out, forming scabs and fall off the surface of the skin, leaving behind disfiguring scars. It is possible for an infection to be successfully treated, but not without some permanent scarring.
In some instances, a person can even become blind as a result of infection. For now, the condition is considered to be eradicated, due to the successful implementation of vaccination for prevention purposes. There have been no known infections since i.
That said, there is growing concern that the virus causing the disease i. These authorised samples are kept for research purposes only. An outbreak could cause a spike in mortality rates and result in mass disruption to health sectors. Smallpox is not considered an immediate health threat, but preparations for epidemic re-emergence have been issued by the CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to governments around the world to take note of so as to better handle situations should a biological attack occur.
A brief history of smallpox and the virus that causes it The variola virus VARV is responsible for the development of this highly infectious disease.
This virus is a member of the genus Orthopoxvirus — a group of viruses belonging to the Poxviridae familywhich are also associated with the monkeypox virus MPXVvaccinia virus VACVcamelpox virus CMLV and cowpox virus CPXV — all infectious diseases which are transmittable from human to human or from animal to human.
Poxyviridae viruses are characterised as linear or brick-shapeddouble-stranded DNA deoxyribonucleic acid viruses which are able to replicate themselves in living cells i.
There are two sub-families of this virus form: Smallpox is transmittable between humans only, causing large-scale epidemics for many years prior to the implementation of an effective vaccination. It is said to have resulted in more than annual European deaths during the 18th Century.
Its precise origins are, however, not entirely known but some ancient data and research has turned up some interesting clues. VARV has been associated with an African rodent and camels but is yet to be distinctively linked to these animals.
It is also thought that early infections may have originated in ancient Egypt around the 3rd century BCEspreading through the development of international trade between the 4th and 15th centuries with some written descriptions speculating that the disease was rife in China, Korea and Japan.
Other speculations have mentioned possible occurrences in India around the 7th century and in Asia Minor the westernmost protrusion of Asia during the 10th century. The disease could have reached the Western world via European explorers by the early 16th century being carried from one location to another during the Crusades, Portuguese occupation in parts of Western Africa, European colonisations and the African slave trade etc.
It is believed that the growth of civilisations and trade route expansions most likely resulted in the widespread transmission of the disease.
By the 17th and 18th centuries, European colonisations and British explorations could have introduced the disease to North America and Australia. Are there different types of smallpox? There are two primary variants of VARV smallpox types: VARV major or variola major is the predominant epidemic viral strain that resulted in mass infections all over the world, including Europe, Asia and Africa until the 20th century.
There are 5 subtypes of VARV major: This subtype is a milder form of the disease which can occur in individuals who have been vaccinated against the disease. This subtype is considered highly severe and rare. Lesion haemorrhages in the skin and mucous membranes can result in life-threatening conditions.
Variola sine eruptione variola sine exanthemata: A less common form of the disease, wherein symptoms that occur are not accompanied by the characteristic rash.
Some individuals may be asymptomatic or experience short-lived symptoms such as a headache, fever and other flu-like ailments. This form may also affect previously vaccinated individuals.
Other known forms of smallpox included: Pharyngeal form of smallpox: This form can occur in vaccinated individuals, resulting in a spotty rash in mucous membranes — mainly affecting the soft palate soft tissue at the back of the roof of the mouthuvula fleshy tissue which hangs at the back of the mouth over the tongue and pharynx cavity behind the nose and the mouth.
It is typically mild and can be effectively treated. Influenza-like form of smallpox: In this mild form of the disease a skin rash rarely occurs. This form is also more typical in individuals who have received sufficient vaccinations against the condition. Pulmonary form of smallpox:Signs and Symptoms.
Treatment of smallpox patients generally involved supportive care. Vaccination can prevent or lessen the severity of disease if given within 2 to 3 days of the initial exposure.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Medication Guide for vaccination with ACAM The first symptoms of smallpox usually appear 10 to 14 days after you're infected.
During the incubation period of seven to 17 days, you look and feel healthy and can't infect others.
Following the incubation period, a sudden onset of flu-like signs and symptoms occurs. Smallpox - an easy to understand guide covering causes, diagnosis, symptoms, treatment and prevention plus additional in depth medical information.
Smallpox - an easy to understand guide covering causes, diagnosis, symptoms, treatment and prevention plus additional in depth medical information. Smallpox is a disease caused by the variola virus. Symptoms and signs include a characteristic rash and high fever.
Read about vaccine side effects, history and treatment, plus see pictures. Learn about the eradication of the smallpox virus, and learn about smallpox inoculation.
If smallpox occurs again, other treatments may be tried. Also, giving the smallpox vaccination within days after exposure to smallpox may prevent illness, or at least make it less severe. While studies are very limited, some antiviral medications such as Cidofovir, may have a role in treating smallpox (Red Book, 1() ).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with other research organization, still study smallpox and its various treatment and prevention techniques in the event that it might be used in a bioterrorism attack.