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Smallpox

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Doctor, doctor! Treatment room 3, hurry! In this scenario, you are an emergency room doctor seeing patients who arrive at your hospital with various skin rashes. It's up to you to diagnose and treat each patient to the best of your ability. Your patient in room 3 awaits your help...stat!

Smallpox Brochure

Smallpox Brochure

What is smallpox?

Smallpox, also called Variola, is a highly contagious viral disease that is caused by the Variola virus. It gets its name from the pox, or raised bumps, that appear on the bodies of people who are infected with the disease. The major symptoms of Smallpox include high fever, vomiting, backache, and severe headache. Fever, malaise, and nausea usually appear before the rash appears on the body. When the rash does appear, it begins on the face, arms, and legs, and then spreads inward. The fever usually falls as the rash appears, but then returns as the pox fill with fluid and doesn't fall again until the pox scab over. People infected with Smallpox are contagious until all of the scabs fall off. This takes approximately three weeks from the time the rash first appears. Smallpox used to be very common. In the Middle Ages, the mortality rate was as high as 30%. Smallpox was brought to the Americas by European colonists, and by the mid 1700's was a major problem almost everywhere in the world. The first efforts to eradicate the disease began in 1950. After lots of hard work, Smallpox was finally eradicated in 1980. Today, only two stocks of the Smallpox virus exist: one in the United States and one in Russia. These stocks are used for research, and scientists are hopeful that they will aid in the development of new vaccines and medicines.

What is chickenpox?

Chickenpox, also called Varicella, is a very contagious disease caused by the Varicella-Zoster virus. Chickenpox is endemic worldwide. People who have Chickenpox typically have a fever, headache, and stomach ache, in addition to the famous blisters. An infected person will typically have 250-500 of these small, itchy blisters on their skin. Blisters first appear on the face, scalp and the middle of the body, and then spread outward. After a few days, the blisters burst. Most of the blisters will not leave scars unless they become infected.

If smallpox is eradicated, why is it still important?

There is a concern that Smallpox might be used as a biological weapon in a terrorist attack. Since vaccinations against Smallpox were discontinued when it was eradicated, most of the county's population has not received a vaccination against the disease. Even those who have received a vaccination during the campaign to eradicate Smallpox are at risk, because the vaccination wears off as time passes. Since Smallpox can have a mortality rate of up to 30%, it is important that the government be able to respond to a Smallpox outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) keeps stocks of vaccines on hand in case of an emergency, and response plans have been created to deal with a possible Smallpox outbreak.

What is the difference between smallpox and chickenpox?

The easiest way to tell the difference is because the rashes are different. The smallpox rash is mostly on the head, hands, and feet. The chickenpox rash is mostly on the chest, back, and stomach, with a few dots- called papules - on the hands and feet. Smallpox starts off with the person just feeling very sick with no rash, but chickenpox usually has the rash at the same time as the person feeling sick. Smallpox usually lasts for a much longer time than chickenpox. Several days into the rash, the middle of the bumps sink, making it look kind of like a bellybutton. Only smallpox does this. The bumps then become papules. A scab forms over the papules, and falls off to leave a scar. The person is contagious until the last scab has fallen off. Chickenpox papules appear and vanish, usually without leaving scars. Chickenpox is not very dangerous to healthy children, but it can be much more serious in adults and babies.

Symptom Chart

Sickness Symptoms
Allergic Conjunctivitis Pink or red color in eye, Swelling, Increased tearing
Anaphylaxis Itching or burning skin, Hives, Flushing of skin
Bronchoconstriction Shortness of breath, Wheezing, Coughing
Hypotension Lightheadedness, Dizziness, Headache, Chest pain
Laryngeal edema Coughing, Obstructed airway, Difficulty breathing
Nummular dermatitis Round patches on skin, Itching, Burning
Pertussis Runny nose, Violent Coughing, Vomiting
Pharyngitis Burning throat, Pain when swallowing
Pyrexia Temperature, Feeling cold, Shivering
Rheumatic fever Joint pain, Fever, Fatigue, Rash, Shortness of breath
Scarlet fever Red rash, Red and bumpy tongue, Flushed face
Seborrheic dermatitis Redness of skin, Dandruff, Itching, Soreness
Sinusitis Facial pain, Headache, Difficulty breathing through nose
Stasis dermatitis Itching, Leg pain, Sores on leg
Strep Throat Throat pain, Fever, Headache, Difficulty swallowing
Tonsillitis Red, swollen tonsils, Sore throat, Fever
Urticaria Small bumps on skin, Large patches on skin
Varicella Itchy red rash, Abdominal pain, Fever, Headache
Variola Red rash, Headache, Fatigue, Fever, Back pain
Whooping cough Violent, prolonged coughing, Runny nose, Congestion
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