Smallpox is a type of disease caused by the variola virus. Because of the name resemblance, people can often confuse it with chickenpox. But this disease is much more serious than chickenpox. It creates pus-filled bubbles in the body, and these bubbles are more specific than the blisters caused by chickenpox disease and are easily detected by doctors. The blisters caused by chickenpox are more superficial and generally found on the trunk. However, the pus-filled bubbles caused by smallpox are deeper and deep pus-filled crusted bubbles have formed on the chest, back and arms, especially on the face. Their color depends on the condition of the disease.
What is smallpox?
Smallpox is a contagious disease that causes the widest spread and death in history. It has two types: Variola major and variola minor. Variola major is about 30% lethal and severe. Variola minor is lighter and the lethality rate is up to 1%. The first vaccine in history is the vaccine for smallpox. This is considered the greatest achievement in terms of public health. This vaccine was discovered thanks to early diagnosis and follow-up.
Who gets smallpox?
Smallpox can be seen in humans and pets. Smallpox can be seen in all ages and genders. The incubation period of this disease varies between 7-107 days and although there is no symptom in the patient during this period, it is not contagious. The disease is contagious when the symptoms of the disease appear, that is, when the bubbles begin to form in the body or symptoms such as fever appear. The virus in the bubbles in the patient’s body can be transmitted by the patient’s belongings, flies, and infected airways. Patients experience 30-40 degrees fever and red marks begin to form. Blisters occur mainly on the face, head, chest, back, arms, and legs. The most important difference that distinguishes smallpox from chickenpox is that the chickenpox lesion is more superficial and the bubbles formed are mostly on the body.
How is smallpox transmitted?
With the emergence of fever and rash, it is transmitted by air. The amount of contagion gradually decreases until the skin rashes disappear. The disease can also be transmitted from the clothes and bedding of sick people. It can be contaminated with the ventilation systems in buildings where people with smallpox are present, and therefore an epidemic may occur 2-3 weeks after the first case. With outbreaks occurring in societies, it has been found that a person with smallpox can infect 5-12 people with smallpox. In unvaccinated societies, all individuals are susceptible to the disease. Therefore, there is a rapid transmission. It is calculated as 10 persons for a patient at this rate.
What are the symptoms of smallpox?
Doctors can easily diagnose a person with smallpox. Because this disease occurs with a special rash. Deeper, crusted pus-filled blisters that resemble blisters seen in chickenpox appear as one of the first symptoms. Since these bubbles are larger and deeper than chickenpox, they leave large scars after the disease is over. These bubbles are found in the whole body, especially in the head. Bubbles may occur in different colors depending on the course and severity of the disease. These blisters dry up and fall off in the latter days of the disease. It causes ingrown wounds on the skin. These wounds that occur in the mouth, nose, and ears, greatly affect the vital functions of the patient. The cause of death of the patients is mostly hypotension, It is caused by coagulation in the capillaries and complications in the circulatory system (inability to transport nutrients and oxygen to tissues, carbon dioxide, and metabolites cannot be removed from tissues).
The main symptoms of smallpox are:
- High fever
- Abdominal pain
Severe back pain
What is the treatment for smallpox?
While there is no cure for the smallpox virus, there are prevention methods to reduce the chance of getting it. Thanks to the vaccination programs, variola virus, or smallpox, has been completely eradicated. Only individuals working in a laboratory environment may be at risk. Vaccination within 4 days of contact with people who are thought to have been in contact with the smallpox virus or a person with smallpox can prevent or overcome the disease. In addition, studies have revealed that Cidovir can be used effectively in chemoprophylaxis.
What should be done in the smallpox epidemic?
When there is an epidemic, the most important thing is to stop it from spreading further. Therefore, individuals with the disease should be diagnosed immediately. In epidemic situations, it is necessary to find the causes that need to be done, namely the patients, and to vaccinate them by determining the contact of these patients. People with a rash should be well investigated and if vaccination is not possible, the individual’s fever and symptoms should be followed for 18 days. Individuals showing signs of the disease should be isolated and samples should be taken from these patients. If it is spread over a wide area, it should be avoided from crowded places. Protection measures given by the health organization should be implemented.
What is the vaccine, how long is the protection period?
The first smallpox vaccine was the cowpox vaccine and with this vaccine, individuals who were not sick were vaccinated and individuals were prevented from getting sick. Later, this vaccine continued to be developed. This vaccine is also the first vaccine in history, and even vaccines, which means vaccine, come from the word ‘Vacca’. Vacca means cow in Latin. Thanks to this vaccine, smallpox has completely disappeared today.
In addition, thanks to this vaccination, remedies for other diseases have begun to be found. If we look at the content of the smallpox vaccine, the smallpox vaccine is actually a live virus vaccine. It is very similar to the Variola virus, which is from the Orthopox family of viruses. The vaccine has a high protective effect, but it was a vaccine whose manufacture and storage were restricted in 1999 by the World Health Organization Variola Virus Advisory Committee.
Although many countries are striving to increase their vaccine stocks, it is recommended to look into it as the vaccine is thought to have immunity. While vaccine production studies continue, smallpox vaccines in stocks are also checked. It has been determined that vaccines in stock have not lost their immunogenicity (potency) for years. If we look at the protection period of the vaccine, it has been determined that the vaccine protects the person for at least ten (10) years.
Symptoms are milder in vaccinated individuals and it is known that there is less transmission from these individuals. If we look at the protection period of the vaccine, it has been determined that the vaccine protects the person for at least ten (10) years. Symptoms are milder in vaccinated individuals and it is known that there is less transmission from these individuals.
If we look at the protection period of the vaccine, it has been determined that the vaccine protects the person for at least ten (10) years. Symptoms are milder in vaccinated individuals and it is known that there is less transmission from these individuals.
What are the side effects of the smallpox vaccine?
Side effects, ie complications, of the vaccine are frequent. however, it is preferred for people at risk of disease, given the complications of the disease. The most important side effects of the vaccine are vaccine-related eczema, generalized vaccinia infection, progressive vaccinia infection, and post-vaccination encephalitis. In addition, studies on vaccines continue today. Immunoglobulins are being developed together with the vaccine so that they can be used in vulnerable groups.
What are the contraindications for the smallpox vaccine?
The smallpox vaccine should not be given to some groups. We can list the ones in this group as follows:
- Pregnant women
- Immunocompromised individuals
- Patients using immunosuppressive drugs during their treatment
- HIV (+) ones
- Individuals with a history of eczema
If there is an epidemic, these individuals should also be vaccinated, but immunoglobulin should be given with the vaccine. If you have been exposed to the variola virus that causes smallpox, or if you have come into contact with someone with smallpox, report the situation to the nearest health institution as soon as possible.
The page content is for informational purposes only. Items containing information about therapeutic health services are not included in the content of the page. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment.
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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). History of Smallpox. (https://www.cdc.gov/smallpox/history/history.html) Accessed 11/8/2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Signs and Symptoms. (https://www.cdc.gov/smallpox/symptoms/index.html) Accessed 11/8/2020.
- National Organization for Rare Disorders. Smallpox. (https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/smallpox/) Accessed 11/8/2020.
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Smallpox. (https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/smallpox) Accessed 11/8/2020.