Smallpox: Variola Virus

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Smallpox is only infectious disease to ever be eradicated worldwide. It was one of the most frightening diseases, from its very long history, to its many variants, to the symptoms of the often lethal disease, to the incredibly high deaths, to the treatments that helped end it, to the final eradication of the disease, to its containment, to the fears of it being used in bioterrorism today.
Smallpox became an epidemic in more recent times, but its history seems to be much longer than that. For millions of years, smallpox was only found in animals. It was often mild to asymptomatic when carried by animals, but somehow along the way, it found a new host (Tucker 6). One of the oldest cases found was of the Pharaoh Ramses V, one of the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt. When 20th century scientists went to examine his body, they found it covered in pustules and lesions. It’s believed that he had Smallpox, and if he did, he
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This disease has one of the largest virus and most complex virus particles, also known as virions, found in nature. Smallpox is caused by the Variola virus. It’s called Variola which comes from the Latin word Varius, meaning spotted (Preston 237). Smallpox is part of the genus, Orthopoxvirus. Orthopoxviruses are viruses that usually use vertebrates and mammals as hosts. Viruses in this group include Buffalopox, Camelpox, Monkeypox, Mousepox, Rabbitpox and Raccoonpox. These diseases are usually named after their primary host, the only exceptions being Cowpox and Monkeypox, which are typically carried by rodents. Despite Chickenpox’s name, Chickenpox is part of a completely different group and isn’t related (Tucker 5). Another form of Smallpox is Hemorrhagic Smallpox, also known as Blackpox. It’s very rare, but very deadly having an almost 100% mortality rate (Preston 44-50). These variants are all very unpleasant, but one stands out above all other, and has some terrible symptoms:
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