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Small Pox What is Smallpox Small pox is a highly contagious infection caused by a virus called Variola Variola is a member of Orthopoxvirus family The last known non-laboratory case of smallpox occurred in 1977 in Somalia and signaled the end of a successful worldwide decade-long effort to eradicate the infection from the globe These reports that prior to the demise of the Soviet Union smallpox was being developed by that government laboratories in recent years has led to concern that the virus and the expertise to propagate a large amount of it may have fallen into non-Russian hands The rapidity with which smallpox could spread in the US population has led to concern that this agent would present a particularly potent threat if it were used as an agent of bioterrorissm Signs and symptoms After an incubation period of up to 16 days 12 days is the highest the infected patient typically develops high fever malaise headache and backache which progress within the first 48 hours Infected children may suffer from vomiting and seizures during the prodormal period In severe cases the patient may become delirious and stuporius The patient may experience transient improvement in symptoms and reduction in fever during the third day of illness but sore throat cough and rash soon follow Painful ulcerative lesions first erupt in the mouth and throat and cause sore throat and hoarseness The rash then appears on the face and forearms and spreads to upper arms and trunk This distribution is unlike that of the rash of Varicella which typically begins on the trunk and spreads later to the face and extremities How is smallpox spread Smallpox spread in droplets or aerosol from the aropharynx or infected individuals It also can be spread by direct contact with infected lesions or from clothing or bed linens contaminated with the virus The period of infectivity begins as the enanthem and rash develops Patients remain contagious until
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