History and Causes of Smallpox Essay

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Introduction
Smallpox is a viral disease that causes pus-filled boils on the dermis. It looks similar to chickenpox, but has certain characteristic differences. Unlike chickenpox, smallpox is lethal in 30% of the cases and leaves the victim with disfiguring scars and/or blindness. Smallpox has now been eradicated through aggressive vaccination. The last case was reported in Somalia in the late 1970’s. After 2 years of worldwide surveillance, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that the disease had been eradicated.
Causative agent
Smallpox is caused by the Variola virus, which belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus. The members of this genus share similar genetic makeup and characteristics. Viruses belonging to this family are
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Disease transmission
Smallpox is transmitted via face-to-face contact and /or exchange of infected bodily fluids with the affected individual. The disease is transmitted to a lesser extent via infected clothing and bedding. Humans are the only natural host for the virus. Therefore, there is no reservoir and the virus is not transmittable through animals or insects. The incubation period of the virus is nearly 2 weeks (7 to 17 days) during which the person is asymptomatic and non-contagious (Fenner et al., 129).
Symptoms and diagnosis
After the incubation period, the person experiences symptoms such as fever (101 to 104°F), body ache, headache, malaise, vomiting and stomachache. At this point, the person becomes too sick to walk around and do their daily chores. This phase is called as prodrome that may last 2 to 4 days. The patient starts to feel normal after this prodrome phase only to experience the appearance of rashes in the form of red spots on the mucous lining of the mouth and on the tongue, 24 hours later. These spots rupture and release the virus into the throat. It is during this time that the rash starts appearing on the dermis of the face, arms and legs. Usually, the midsection of the body has less concentration of these spots when compared to the face and the extremities. This is the first

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