Smallpox vaccination within three days of exposure will prevent or significantly lessen the severity of smallpox symptoms in the vast majority of people. Vaccination four to seven days after exposure likely offers some protection from disease or may modify the severity of disease.18 Other than vaccination, treatment of smallpox is primarily supportive: wound care, infection control, fluid therapy, and ventilator assistance (if needed).
1.”Vaccine Overview” (PDF). Smallpox Fact Sheet. http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/smallpox/vaccination/pdf/vaccine-overview.pdf. Retrieved 2009-11-02.
Smallpox vaccination; the common formulation of smallpox vaccine is a live virus preparation of infectious vaccinia virus.
The last cases of smallpox in the world occurred in an outbreak of two cases (one of which was fatal) in Birmingham, England in 1978. A medical photographer, Janet Parker, contracted the disease at the University of Birmingham Medical School and died on 11 September 1978,1 after which the scientist responsible for smallpox research at the university, Professor Henry Bedson, committed suicide.2 In light of this accident, all known stocks of smallpox were destroyed or transferred to one of two WHO reference laboratories; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States and the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR in Koltsovo, Russia.3 In 1986, the World Health Organization recommended destruction of the virus, and later set the date of destruction to be 30 December 1993. This was postponed to 30 June 1995.4 In 2002 the policy of the WHO changed to be against its final destruction.5 Destroying existing stocks would reduce the risk involved with ongoing smallpox research; the stocks are not needed to respond to a smallpox outbreak.6 However, the stocks may be useful in developing new vaccines, antiviral drugs, and diagnostic tests.7
1.Pennington H (2003). “Smallpox and bioterrorism”. Bull. World Health Organ. (10): 762–7. PMID 14758439. http://www.scielosp.org/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0042-96862003001000014&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en.
2.Barquet N, Domingo P (15 Oct 1997). “Smallpox: the triumph over the most terrible of the ministers of death”. Ann. Intern. Med. 127 (8 Pt 1): 635–42. PMID 9341063.
3.Connor, Steve (3 January 2002). “How terrorism prevented smallpox being wiped off the face of the planet for ever”. The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/how-terrorism-prevented-smallpox-being-wiped-off-the-face-of-the-planet-for-ever-672121.html. Retrieved 2008-10-03.
4.Altman, Lawrence (25 January 1996). “Final Stock of the Smallpox Virus Now Nearer to Extinction in Labs”. New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9800EED61639F936A15752C0A960958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=print. Retrieved 2007-11-23.
5.MacKenzie, Debora (26 January 2002). “Stay of execution”. New Scientist. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg17323271.300-stay-of-execution.html. Retrieved 2007-11-23.
6.Hammond E (2007). “Should the US and Russia destroy their stocks of smallpox virus?”. BMJ 334 (7597): 774. doi:10.1136/bmj.39155.695255.94. PMID 17431261. http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/334/7597/774.
7.Agwunobi JO (2007). “Should the US and Russia destroy their stocks of smallpox virus?”. BMJ 334 (7597): 775. doi:10.1136/bmj.39156.490799.BE. PMID 17431262. http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/334/7597/775.
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