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Small pox (variola): Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About small pox

Small pox is an infectious disease, caused by the virus , Variola. The disease is also known Variola and is the only infectious disease to have been eradicated from the world.

Small pox: Incidence, age and sex

This severe disease, with about 30% mortality in the unvaccinated and no effective therapy, was eradicated world-wide in 1980 by a successful international vaccination campaign coordinated by the WHO.

Signs & symptoms of small pox: Diagnosis

The classical form is characterized by a typical deep-seated centrifugal vesicular/pustular rash, worst on the face and extremities; the rash is accompanied by fever, severe muscle pain and painful swallowing. Interest in the disease has re-emerged due to its potential as a bioterrorist weapon .In view of this threat, some developed countries have reintroduced vaccination for key health-care personnel and re-evaluated national plans for the containment of disease.

Causes and prevention of small pox

Small pox is caused by infection by the variola virus, the two classic varieties of small pox are variola major and variola minor. Transmission occurs through inhalation of airborne variola virus, usually droplets expressed from the oral, nasal, or pharyngeal mucosa of an infected person but can also be spread through direct contact with infected bodily fluids or contaminated objects (fomites) such as bedding or clothing. It can be prevented by isolation of the contacts and by vaccination. Routine vaccination has ceased in all countries by 1986. It is now primarily recommended for laboratory workers at risk for occupational exposure.

Small pox: Complications

Complications of smallpox include pneumonia, secondary bacterial infection of the skin encephalitis (1 in 500 patients), permanent pitted scars, most notably on the face; and complications involving the eyes (2% of all cases). Pustules can form on the eyelid, conjunctiva, and cornea, leading to complications such as conjunctivitis, keratitis, corneal ulcer, iritis, iridocyclitis, optic atrophy and blindness .In young children, small pox causes osteomyelitis and arthritis .This may lead to limb deformities, malformed bones, flail joints, and stubby fingers.

Small pox: Treatment

Smallpox vaccination within three days of exposure will prevent or significantly lessen the severity of smallpox symptoms. Vaccination four to seven days after exposure may modify the severity of disease. Treatment of smallpox is primarily supportive, such as wound care and infection control, fluid therapy, and possible ventilator assistance. No drug is currently approved for the treatment of smallpox. However, studies suggest that the antiviral drug cidofovir might be useful as a therapeutic agent.