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Smallpox is an infectious and contagious disease caused by a virus of the poxvirus family. This virus is dangerous because it is very strong, but a single infection can instill lifelong immunity in the host. Not a single case of smallpox has been identified since the late 1970s. It is assumed that the disease was eradicated through the effective use of international immunization campaigns. Smallpox is spread by the inhalation of droplets after sneezing or coughing, or by contact with clothing that is soiled with the virus. There are several forms of smallpox: minor, hemorrhaging and malignant.


The symptoms of smallpox usually appear within two weeks after infection and include:
  • high fever of around 40° C;
  • headache;
  • body aches;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • a characteristic rash: it presents itself as ulcers, loss of the surface layer of the skin, in the oral cavity. On the body, small spots fill with fluid and become scabs, which then give way to scarring;
  • bleeding in the hemorrhagic form, which almost inevitably leads to death.


The diagnosis of smallpox is made following the observation of characteristic lesions.


There is no treatment against smallpox but only preventive vaccines. The isolation of patients is essential.


The only preventive measure against smallpox, as well as treatment, is the isolation of patients and the use of a preventive vaccination.