Smallpox: Smallpox and Smallpox Vaccination Program Essay

Submitted By kthompson12
Words: 858
Pages: 4

Smallpox is a contagious, serious, and sometimes fatal infectious disease derived from the variola virus, which emerged in human populations thousands of years ago. It was one of the world’s most devastating diseases known to our humanity. The pox part of smallpox comes from the Latin word “spotted”, and refers to the raised bumps that surface throughout the face and body on an infected person. There is no specific treatment if someone were to make contact with this virus; however, there is ample amounts of vaccines to help prevent the spread. There are two forms of smallpox; variola major and variola minor. As expected in the title, variola major is the worse of the two, causing a more extensive rash and higher fever. There are four types of the variola major: ordinary (which accounts for 90% of cases), modified (which is mild and occurs in vaccinated people), flat, and hemorrhagic, which are both very rare, and deadly. Overall, the fatality rate for the major strand is roughly 30%, whereas variola minor is less common and only accounts for less than 1% of our death rates. Symptoms of a typical smallpox infection begins with a fever and extreme lethargy for approximately two weeks after exposure to the variola virus. Depending on which form of the virus you come into contact with, depends on the intensity of the fever, and symptoms. Within the first 12-14 days of exposure, known as the incubation period, a person is not contagious and may feel fine, with no symptoms. Then the initial symptoms of headache, sore throat, vomiting, body aches come on and last for 2-4 days, which sometimes can be contagious. When a person is most contagious, is in the early rash stage which last about 4 days. Small red spots emerge on the tongue and in mouth which develop into sores that break open and spread large amounts of the virus into the mouth. When the sores in the mouth break open, a rash then appears on the skin and spreads throughout the entire surface. Then the small dots become raised bumps which fill with liquid, which then turn into pustules, and eventually form a scab. Once the scabs have fallen off, a person is no longer contagious. The transmission of smallpox generally requires direct, face-to-face contact, direct contact with infected bodily fluids, or contaminated objects such as bedding or clothing. It has rarely been associated with the spread by air in enclosed settings, however a few cases did emerge from transmission this way. Humans are the only known host to this virus; there has been no evidence as of yet to be transmitted by insects or animals. It initially plagued human populations by too close of contact with the sores, and by respiratory droplets from an infected person. Luckily for us, smallpox is the only disease on our planet to have been eradicated, and was declared as such in 1980. It was done by a global immunization campaign led by the World Health Organization. Once it was declared eradicated, vaccines were no longer administered simply because there wasn’t a need to do so. A few samples remain in laboratory stockpiles, which has caused great concern and debate since the events of September 11, 2001. Many want the sample destroyed to prevent it from being used as an agent of bioterrorism. Due to this, military and civilian personnel who may be deployed in high threat areas are…