Smallpox is a highly infectious and lethal disease that is caused by the variola virus, a member of the poxvirus family. The virus is airborne and is easily spread through sneezes, coughing, and even by touching objects such as books or blankets where an infected person has slept. When infected by the variola virus there is a 12-14 day delay, where the virus is multiplying in the body and no symptoms are visible. After the 12-14 day period symptoms become visible/noticeable all of a sudden. The symptoms include high fever of 102-106 degrees F, chills, headache, muscle cramping especially in the back, vomiting. After 3-4 days the fever decreases and the symptoms decrease also. It seems like the patient is getting all better. Then painful sores develop in the mouth, face and forearms, and they become firm and they increase in number. They spread from the face and ends of arms and legs toward the body. 3-4 days after this rash, clear blisters form and then the blisters get filled with puss. Some of them bleed. Then they form crust and scabs that usually fall off three weeks after the beginning of the illness, leaving small scars. It can be more serious than this; people can die from it, due to the infection of the blisters and no effective cure for it. The patient is contagious from one day before the rash appears until all the scabs have fallen off.
History: In the middle ages it was noticed that ladies who milked cows would get a viral infection from the cows called “Cow Pox” or “Milker’s Nodules” people noticed that people who had cow pox never got smallpox, because the virus was somewhat similar to the smallpox. This gave people the idea to immunize against smallpox by using similar virus to smallpox. Cow pox was rarely very serious and it provided immunity from smallpox, so that’s how people got the idea to vaccinate against smallpox. In 1967 the world health organization started a program to get rid of smallpox. After ten years smallpox was considered to no longer exist. There are only two laboratories that keep the virus alive for possible future use, and those laboratories located in Atlanta, Georgia and the other one is in Moscow, Russia.
Websites: http://ic.galegroup.com.prox.miracosta.edu/ic/whic/ReferenceDetailsPage/ReferenceDetailsWindow?displayGroupName=K12-Reference&prodId=WHIC&action=e&windowstate=normal&catId=&documentId=GALE|CV2643450806&mode=view The Global Eradication of Smallpox, Science and Its Times, 2001
http://ic.galegroup.com.prox.miracosta.edu/ic/whic/ReferenceDetailsPage/ReferenceDetailsWindow?displayGroupName=K12-Reference&prodId=WHIC&action=e&windowstate=normal&catId=&documentId=GALE|CX3403300698&mode=view Smallpox, Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence and Security, 2004
Text book: Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 11th edition, 1987 McGraw Hill