Role of Smallpox Vaccine in the Prevention and Treatment of Variola major and Variola minor
Smallpox has claimed the lives of many ever since the Middle Ages. However, it has now been eradicated due in part to a very effective vaccine. The vaccine has saved the lives of thousands and has eradicated the disease in the history of man kind. This miracle vaccine can greatly diminish the effects variola and even stop the disease from becoming fatal. The vaccine is also the only known way to fight the smallpox, and until an antiviral agent is found, it will be humanity’s only defense against this deadly and devastating disease.
The pathogenic virus Variola causes the well-known and often deadly virus smallpox. Smallpox has been eradicated for about 25 years, mostly on the part of a successful vaccine. As mentioned earlier, Variola is a virus. There are three forms of the virus that are most prominent: variola, variola hemorrhagica, and varioloid. (2) All these viruses are classified as the cause of smallpox though simulate different symptoms. Any individual with any of these viruses can either have variola major or variola minor. Variola major is the more severe form of smallpox. (2) Unvaccinated patients diagnosed with variola major have a 30-50% fatality rate, while if the same patients had variola minor, they would have a 1-2% chance of death. (3) In vaccinated patients, only 3% of people diagnosed with variola major die. With a few exceptions, no vaccinated patients with the minor form of the disease have died.
Smallpox is characterized by a series of symptoms. These symptoms will first occur within 7-17 days after exposure to the virus. (3) The symptoms may include fever, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting or severe muscles aches and is
Role of Smallpox Vaccine…2
sometimes accompanied by the flushing of the skin. These symptoms may last as long as four days. After four days, the rash characteristic of smallpox appears, mostly on the exposed parts of the body (i.e., face, wrists, palms, lower legs, feet, and soles). (1, 3, 4) The rash will start out as a flat spot then become raised into bumps known as papules. The papules will continue to grow until they are filled with a pus-like liquid. The lesions will begin to scab and then fall off, but may remain permanently scarred.
Smallpox is highly contagious and can be spread by having close contact (less than six feet) with the person. The virus can also be spread by coming into contact with something that has also been in close contact with an infected person such as bedding or the person’s clothing. Although the virus can survive on inanimate objects such as a shirt, it cannot infect or be carried through and animal or insect. It is possible, though extremely unlikely, that the virus can be spread by airborne means. Anyone with the virus is still contagious until all scabs formed by lesions have fallen off. (3)
Smallpox can be prevented by a vaccine. Vaccines are usually viruses that are...