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All You Wanted To Know About Smallpox Disease

Updated on May 13, 2014
Smallpox virus cell
Smallpox virus cell

Smallpox is a highly contagious disease. It is highly communicable meaning that it can be passed from one infected individual to another one, It passed mainly through body fluids such as mucus and saliva, especially when one coughs or sneezes and the droplets hit another person.

Contact with contaminated clothes or personal items can also spread the infection. Animals and insects such as mosquitoes are not carriers and therefore one is safe playing with the dog or cat of an infected person.

How dangerous Smallpox is?

Smallpox is such a serious and deadly disease that one identified infected person can cause an alarm and a national disaster could be pronounced. Fortunately, most governments including the US one have set up adequate measures to tackle such an incident and prevent it from further spread. There is a vaccine though to stop a person from getting infected with it. The US government though, had stopped the vaccine treatments back in 1972 after they observed that the virus was under control in most parts of the world. Most drug companies had stopped producing the vaccine after that too.

But you can never be too careful…can you? If there is any slight chance of the disease breaking out, it is very good that people know what the disease is like, the causes, the symptoms and treatment among many other facts.

Smallpox can almost be easily identified by a regular person based on its symptoms. They include backache, fatigue, vomiting and very high fever. After about two or three days, a spotted rash develops first in the mouth and face then spreads to the rest of the body. After spotting such changes, one should report to the nearest medical centre so that a qualified medical professional can do proper tests.

Aztec smallpox victims
Aztec smallpox victims

If tests prove positive, that one has acquired Smallpox, antibiotics can be used. Even though there is no known cure for Smallpox, there are a variety of non-medical treatments that the patient can be offered to ease the complications. Therapy to support the infected can be done both at home and at a medical institution.

At home, a Smallpox patient should be comfortable in the sense that the skin is free to breathe and free from injury. Cleanliness and neatness are important to hasten recovery and eliminate any chances of worsening or further pain. The person administering the treatment should be able to protect him/herself by using protective wear including masks and gloves. Any personal item that the patient uses should be cleaned thoroughly with a strong detergent.

What is Smallpox status for today?

Even though it was eradicated in 1972, the US government does not fully deny the fact that Smallpox is still around, hidden is some laboratory. A medical terrorism may occur. The saving grace is that if an outbreak occurs, the same measures used back then to contain it will still be used now, that is, through mass vaccination, screening of the population and isolating the patients. It is advisable though that one takes vaccination at least once every ten years to ensure maximum protection.

Smallpox vaccine

Smallpox Victim

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