Differentiating Symptoms Between Variola Minor And Major

1640 words - 7 pages

Differentiating Symptoms between Variola minor and major

Smallpox is a very virulent disease that has many accompanying symptoms. The two major forms of smallpox, Variola major and Variola minor have many concurring symptoms that follow an identical course. However, major has some distinguishing symptoms that minor does not. These include hemorrhaging and internal and external bleeding. These extreme symptoms are the reason why major, the more common of the two forms, has a 30% fatality rate whereas minor only has a 1% fatality rate. If a person was fortunate and survived smallpox, they would be left with lifelong scars all over their body.
The World Health Organization announced that smallpox had been eradicated from the planet on May 8, 1980. This was prompted by a three year absence of a smallpox infection; the last occurring case was reported in Somalia in 1977. Since then, worldwide stock of smallpox vaccines has been reduced enormously simply because of speculation that there is no need for it anymore and administering the vaccine is impertinent. After the disappearance of smallpox as an afflicting disease, it now exists in labs in only two locations, the United States and Russia, where it is studied for research purposes only. Smallpox is a virus that has two major forms, Variola major and Variola minor, and each form has similar and differentiating symptoms with regards to the other type (Alibek, 1999).
The word virus comes from the Latin word, poison. A virus infects a cell and into it, inserts its DNA. The virus then multiplies inside the cell and when enough of the virus has been produced, the newly formed viruses will break out into the body of the host, destroying the cell in the process. Variola major and Variola minor both infect cells in the same way. The smallpox virus, which descends from the pox family of viruses, invades cells close to the skin as well as cells in the nervous system. Once in the cell, viral transcription begins almost instantaneously. The virus inhibits the DNA synthesis of
Differentiating Symptoms between Variola major and minor 2
the cell, consequently shutting down the cell defense mechanism and produces enzymes and proteins that nourish the virus and helps it grow. After a symptom free incubation period lasting approximately a week, the virus manifests itself suddenly, and the symptoms of this disease begin to appear (Alibek, 1999).
Variola major and Variola minor both have a similar progression of symptoms. A person infected by either form of smallpox will go through several stages of similar symptoms. These stages, which apply to both Variola major and Variola minor, are classified into seven different periods, with different periods corresponding with different symptoms (The Clinical Course of Smallpox, 2003). The first stage is called the Incubation Period, which lasts from 7-17 days. During this phase, the infected person has been exposed to smallpox but experiences no real symptoms. The next...

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