Denver Nursing Star Denver Nursing Star Denver Nursing Star
     Information for the Denver Area Nursing & Health Care Professionals
Published each week by Metro Publishing L.L.C.
Home Page
Classifieds
News
Weekly Columns
Games
Continued Education
Advertise
Contact Us
Communicate with nurses and health care professionals with our NEW Message Board. click here »

Sponsors
» replica watches
» Facebook
Colorado State Flag
Monday, November 29, 2021  

Smallpox: What should I Know?Published 2/4/2003

Smallpox is an acute, contagious, and sometimes fatal disease caused by the variola virus (an orthopoxvirus), and marked by fever and a distinctive progressive skin rash. In 1980, the disease was declared eradicated following worldwide vaccination programs. However, in the aftermath of the events of September and October, 2001, the U.S. government is taking precautions to be ready to deal with a bioterrorist attack using smallpox as a weapon. As a result of these efforts: 1) There is a detailed nationwide smallpox response plan designed to quickly vaccinate people and contain a smallpox outbreak and 2) There is enough smallpox vaccine to vaccinate everyone who would need it in the event of an emergency.

How serious is the smallpox threat?

The deliberate release of smallpox as an epidemic disease is now regarded as a possibility, and the United States is taking precautions to deal with this possibility.

How dangerous is the smallpox threat?

Smallpox is classified as a Category A agent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Category A agents are believed to pose the greatest potential threat for adverse public health impact and have a moderate to high potential for large-scale dissemination.

What are the symptoms of smallpox?

The symptoms of smallpox begin with high fever, head and body aches, and sometimes vomiting. A rash follows that spreads and progresses to raised bumps and pus-filled blisters that crust, scab, and fall off after about three weeks, leaving a pitted scar.

If someone comes in contact with smallpox, how long does it take to show symptoms?

After exposure, it takes between 7 and 17 days for symptoms of smallpox to appear (average incubation time is 12 to 14 days). During this time, the infected person feels fine and is not contagious.

Is smallpox fatal?

The majority of patients with smallpox recover, but death may occur in up to 30% of cases. Many smallpox survivors have permanent scars over large areas of their body, especially their face. Some are left blind.

How is smallpox spread?

Smallpox normally spreads from contact with infected persons. Generally, direct and fairly prolonged face-to-face contact is required to spread smallpox from one person to another. Smallpox also can be spread through direct contact with infected bodily fluids or contaminated objects such as bedding or clothing. Indirect spread is less common. Rarely, smallpox has been spread by virus carried in the air in enclosed settings such as buildings, buses, and trains. Smallpox is not known to be transmitted by insects or animals.

If smallpox is released in aerosol form, how long does the virus survive?

The smallpox virus is fragile. In laboratory experiments, 90% of aerosolized smallpox virus dies within 24 hours.

How many people would have to get smallpox before it is considered an outbreak?

One confirmed case of smallpox is considered a public health emergency.

Is smallpox contagious before the smallpox symptoms show?

A person with smallpox is sometimes contagious with onset of fever (prodrome phase), but the person becomes most contagious with the onset of rash. The infected person is contagious until the last smallpox scab falls off.

Is there any treatment for smallpox?

Smallpox can be prevented through use of the smallpox vaccine. There is no proven treatment for smallpox, but research to evaluate new antiviral agents is ongoing. Early results from laboratory studies suggest that the drug cidofovir may fight against the smallpox virus.

What is the smallpox vaccine, and is it still required?

The smallpox vaccine is the only way to prevent smallpox. The vaccine is made from a virus called vaccinia, which is another ""pox""-type virus related to smallpox but cannot cause smallpox. The vaccine helps the body develop immunity to smallpox. It was successfully used to eradicate smallpox from the human population. Routine vaccination of the American public against smallpox stopped in 1972 after the disease was eradicated in the United States. After the events of September and October, 2001, however, the U.S. government took further actions to improve its level of preparedness against terrorism. For smallpox, this included updating a response plan and ordering enough smallpox vaccine to immunize the American public in the event of a smallpox outbreak.

Should I get vaccinated against smallpox?

Many states are putting their smallpox teams in place and asking for volunteers to be on teams and agree to take the vaccine when it’s available. Each hospital will be evaluating employee risks and making their own decision regarding employee participation in pre-event vaccination. Extensive employee education will be given in order for informed consent before receiving the vaccine.

 « Return to Categories Return to Articles » 



This Weeks Stories
FDA, CDC issue powdered formula warnings to hospitals

CDPHE has online playground checklist

State mostly in line with nation in childhood shots

Denver After Dark Program opens young eyes to new career options

Are you worrying yourself to death?