Smallpox is diagnosed during a physical examination that includes a medical history and list of medications. The CDC has issued guidelines that assist physicians in recognizing the signs and symptoms of smallpox.
There is no cure for smallpox. Most patients receive supportive therapy, such as intravenous fluids and fever and pain control.The best way to prevent smallpox is to receive a vaccination. Currently, only certain people in the U.S. receive the vaccine, such as select military personnel and healthcare workers. The United States has an adequate supply of the vaccine in the event of an emergency.
Smallpox is a highly contagious and sometimes fatal disease caused by the variola virus and characterized by a skin rash. It is also called variola.
The word smallpox is derived from the Latin word for “spotted” and refers to the raised bumps that appear on an infected person.
Smallpox used to kill millions of people worldwide and was once considered a major health problem. In 1967, the World Health Organization (WHO [an organization of the United Nations concerned with worldwide public health]) embarked on a global immunization campaign in an effort to eradicate the disease. The organization’s efforts were successful and the last naturally occurring case of smallpox was reported in 1977 in Somalia.