A certain virus called variola is the main cause of smallpox. Smallpox is highly contagious and sometimes it is hard for the doctors to diagnose them at first. This is mainly because the earliest symptoms are very similar to those of flu. However, a rash is one of the main characteristics of smallpox and it appears after a couple of days. Smallpox used to be pretty common but that is no longer the case since the vaccine was discovered in 1980. It is important to know that smallpox can threaten a life if they are not treated on time. According to the data, the last natural outbreak of smallpox in United States occurred in 1949. Smallpox is a contagious disease
Smallpox appear on the face and body of those who are infected with the virus and they look like raised bumps. However, there were no natural outbreaks of smallpox since 1980 and the discovery of the vaccine. The virus that causes smallpox to occur is called variola and it infects only humans. The scientists have divided smallpox into two clinical forms, variola major and variola minor. Variola major is more common than variola minor and when someone is affected by them, he or she will experience an extensive rash and a severe fever. The experts have also divided variola major into four main types. These types are ordinary, modified, flat and hemorrhagic. Ordinary smallpox are the most common and do not occur in only 10% of all cases. Modified smallpox is known to occur in patients who were previously vaccinated. The last two types are extremely rare but are pretty serious and are known to cause death in almost all of the cases. On the other hand, the overall mortality rate of variola major is not higher than 30%. When variola minor is considered, it is important to know that these kind of smallpox occur quite rarely and cause death in no more than 1% of all of its cases. Smallpox is an extremely contagious disease and it is transmitted in most cases by the inhalation of droplets of saliva. These droplets contain the virus and are usually transmitted when someone gets in contact face-to-face with an infected person. However, the contact needs to last at least 3 hours in order for a person to get infected from a face-to-face contact. Apart from this most common way of transmission, smallpox can also be transmitted via direct contact with infected fluids and contaminated objects and through the air. However, these ways of transmission are not that common.
Is there a treatment for smallpox?
Up to this day there is no known method which is able to kill the virus that causes smallpox. Due to this fact, the best possible treatment for smallpox is for it to provide as much relief of symptoms as it can. The most commonly used treatment options include the use of intravenous fluids, medications which are used to control both pain and fever and antibiotics. Antibiotics are used in order for the secondary infection to be prevented. A vaccine is not only given in order for the virus that causes smallpox to be prevented. Up to four days after a person was infected with the virus, the vaccine can be given and that will drastically reduce the severity of the disease. It is not uncommon for the virus even to be prevented even if the person was infected with the virus. When outcome following a treatment for smallpox is considered, the data claims that most people recover. However, death is not that uncommon as it occurs in 30% of all cases. Those who do recover are most likely to have scars on their face or some other part of the body. How to prevent smallpox?
According to the data, the first procedure that was used to prevent smallpox was inoculation. It is also known as variolation and it was used in India in 1000 BC. The procedure involved nasal insufflations or powdered smallpox scabs or scratching material from a smallpox lesion into the skin. However, the procedure was described as the process of inoculation. The same procedure was also used in the 16th century in China, especially during the Ming Dynasty. The process of prevention proved to be deadly in almost 2% of all cases. In 1976 a certain doctor called Edward Jenner thought that prevention could be achieved by inoculating a person with material from cowpox lesion. During the 19th century this method was replaced by a vaccinia virus for smallpox. It is important to know that vaccinia virus is genetically distinct from both cowpox and variola, even though it is in the same family. An interesting thing is that the experts are unsure of how the vaccinia virus came to be in the vaccine and where it originated from.