Overview

Smallpox is a contagious, disfiguring and often deadly disease that has affected humans for thousands of years. Naturally occurring smallpox was eradicated worldwide by 1980 — the result of an unprecedented global immunization campaign.

Samples of smallpox virus have been kept for research purposes. This has led to concerns that smallpox could someday be used as a biological warfare agent.

No cure or treatment for smallpox exists. A vaccine can prevent smallpox, but the risk of the vaccine's side effects is too high to justify routine vaccination for people at low risk of exposure to the smallpox virus.

July 26, 2017
References
  1. Friedman HM, et al. The epidemiology, pathogenesis and clinical manifestations of smallpox. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 22, 2017.
  2. Smallpox vaccine: Drug information. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 22, 2017.
  3. Smallpox vaccine: Patient drug information. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 22, 2017.
  4. Hall JB, et al., eds. Biological warfare. In: Principles of Critical Care. 4th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed Feb. 22, 2017.
  5. Smallpox. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/smallpox/. Accessed Feb. 22, 2017.
  6. Frequently asked questions and answers on smallpox. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/csr/disease/smallpox/faq/en/#. Accessed Feb. 22, 2017.