Travel Health

From: Travel Health Information and Advice

Smallpox is a highly contagious viral disease that is well known for causing a rash and fluid filled lumps that typically begin on face. The disease has now been eradicated throughout the world.

Cause of Smallpox
Smallpox is caused by the variola virus which can be classified into either variola major or variola minor. The virus is transmitted through infected airborne particles or contact with contaminated mucous on surfaces.

Once infected the virus rapidly affects the mouth and throat causing lesions before further infecting the lymph nodes where it multiplies and spreads to through the blood stream where it spreads to many areas of the body such as the lungs, liver, kidneys intestines and the skin. The virus enters the blood stream and affects the spleen and bone marrow where further multiplication takes place.

Symptoms of Smallpox
Smallpox has an incubation period of about 12 days during which time you are infectious to others. Symptoms typically last for around 3 weeks and often include the following:

This is then followed by:

There is a high fatality rate for people infected with the virus who have not been vaccinated. For those who do recover skin scarring, arthritis and in some cases blindness are notable complications.

Smallpox Vaccination
If exposure to the smallpox virus has occurred immediate vaccination should given, this will dramatically reduce the symptoms.

Prevention Of Smallpox
The only prevention is to vaccinate.

Diagnosing Smallpox
Diagnosis is achieved through a blood test, swab of mucous from the throat or from one of the open fluid filled lumps on the skin.

Treatment of Smallpox
Immediate treatment should be sought for this highly contagious disease.

Smallpox Areas Affected
There are at present no areas affected by the virus.