What are the Signs and Symptoms of Smallpox?

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Smallpox?

Smallpox is a highly contagious and potentially deadly viral infection caused by the variola virus. The disease has been eradicated worldwide due to a successful vaccination campaign, and routine smallpox vaccination is no longer administered. However, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of smallpox in case of a bioterrorism event or accidental release.

Signs and symptoms of smallpox include:

  1. High Fever:
    • Sudden onset of high fever, typically above 101°F (38.3°C).
  2. Malaise and Body Aches:
    • Generalized discomfort, body aches, and fatigue.
  3. Headache:
    • Severe headache that often accompanies the fever.
  4. Rash:
    • A characteristic rash appears a few days after the fever, starting on the face and then spreading to the trunk and limbs.
    • The rash progresses through stages: macules (flat, red spots), papules (raised lesions), vesicles (fluid-filled sacs), and pustules (pustules filled with a thick fluid).
    • Lesions are usually most concentrated on the face and extremities.
  5. Oral Lesions:
    • Lesions in the mouth and throat (enanthem) are common and can be painful.
  6. Lesion Development:
    • Over time, the skin lesions progress and become pustular, forming scabs that eventually fall off, leaving scars.
  7. Lesion Distribution:
    • The rash typically appears first on the face, then spreads to the arms and legs, and finally to the trunk.
  8. Constitutional Symptoms:
    • Severe constitutional symptoms, such as fatigue, weakness, prostration, and loss of appetite.
  9. Highly Contagious:
    • Smallpox is highly contagious from person to person, primarily through respiratory droplets.

It’s important to note that smallpox has been eradicated globally since 1980, and routine smallpox vaccination is no longer given because the disease no longer occurs naturally. In the unlikely event of a smallpox outbreak, strict isolation and infection control measures would be implemented, and public health authorities would provide appropriate guidance and treatment. If you suspect smallpox or come into contact with someone who may have been exposed, seek immediate medical attention and follow public health directives.

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