Facts About Smallpox (CDC)

  1. Facts About Smallpox (CDC):

    This material has been developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reuse or reproduction of this
    material is authorized. Information updated September 2001.
    Facts about Smallpox
    Smallpox infection was eliminated from the world in 1977.
    Smallpox is caused by variola virus. The incubation period is about 12 days (range: 7 to 17
    days) following exposure. Initial symptoms include high fever, fatigue, and head and back aches.
    A characteristic rash, most prominent on the face, arms, and legs, follows in 2-3 days. The rash
    starts with flat red lesions that evolve at the same rate. Lesions become pus-filled and begin to
    crust early in the second week. Scabs develop and then separate and fall off after about 3-4
    weeks. The majority of patients with smallpox recover, but death occurs in up to 30% of cases.
    Smallpox is spread from one person to another by infected saliva droplets that expose a
    susceptible person having face-to-face contact with the ill person. Persons with smallpox are
    most infectious during the first week of illness, because that is when the largest amount of virus
    is present in saliva. However, some risk of transmission lasts until all scabs have fallen off.
    Routine vaccination against smallpox ended in 1972. The level of immunity, if any, among
    persons who were vaccinated before 1972 is uncertain; therefore, these persons are assumed to
    be susceptible.
    Vaccination against smallpox is not recommended to prevent the disease in the general public
    and therefore is not available.
    In people exposed to smallpox, the vaccine can lessen the severity of or even prevent illness
    if given within 4 days after exposure. Vaccine against smallpox contains another live virus
    called vaccinia. The vaccine does not contain smallpox virus.
    The United States currently has an emergency supply of smallpox vaccine.
    There is no proven treatment for smallpox but research to evaluate new antiviral agents is
    ongoing. Patients with smallpox can benefit from supportive therapy (intravenous fluids,
    medicine to control fever or pain, etc.) and antibiotics for any secondary bacterial infections that
  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   Mijourney
    Thank you Joules. So many of us, maybe none of us has ever seen smallpox unless we've lived/worked in developing countries. The CDC, FEMA, and other associations have recommended that health care workers be on the alert for this.
  4. by   VickyRN
    CBS News (cbsnews.com) reports the following on Smallpox:
    Prevention and Action
    The immune status of those who were vaccinated more than 29 years ago is not clear. Because the antibodies have been shown to decline substantially during a five to ten-year period, even those who received the recommended single-dose vaccination as children do not have lifelong immunity. The U.S. has 15.4 million doses of vaccines, boxed and prepared to deliver if there is a breakout. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson has said 40 million new doses will be ready in 2002. The World Health Organization has about 500,000 doses.

    HURRY UP AND GET THAT VACCINE READY!!! (Should never have stopped offering the vaccine....)
  5. by   el
    Thank you. I have been thinking lately that I, as a nurse, need to clarify what I know about small pox and anthrax, especially being from NJ. This cleared up one half of my puzzle. The funny thing is I am nervous to look up Anthrax, I keep thinking if I do a search, the FBI is going to come busting through my door. Paranoia is brutal.
  6. by   Huganurse
    Hi el
    Last edit by Huganurse on Jul 1, '02
  7. by   Joules
    We are definitely paying a price now for the laxity of the Clinton years... Not to mention all of our military and intelligence secrets that were obtained by the Chinese. There are allegations that the Chinese are aiding Bin Laden by sending some of their indigenous Muslim troops in to Afghanistan. If this is true, the Chinese may also be trading intelligence secrets with Bin Laden's terror network.
  8. by   lv2ski
    Yes Joules, I strongly with you regarding the decline in defense since the Clintonian years. Thank goodness we have the Bush crew in the white house now.
    Also, thanks for the small pox info. I am interested in if healthcare workers will be vaccinated any time soon. I think it is important, as we will be some of the first exposed and could then bring it home to others.
    All stand strong and united...