Small Pox (Variola) Symptoms
Smallpox is a very serious, contagious illness caused by variola virus. The disease gets its name from the small pus-filled blisters, called pocks, that are evident on the body of the infected person during the illenss.
There are two forms of smallpox based on severity: variola major and variola minor.
The initial symptoms of smallpox appear after 12 to 14 days after the infection. The period of 7 to 17 days after exposure is called incubation period and the infected person looks healthy and can’t infect others. After the incubation period the next 2 to 4 days the symptoms are severe and there is erupton of pocks.
Smallpox starts with flu like symptoms. Some of the initial symptoms include:
- High Fever
- Severe Fatigue
- Overall discomfort or malaise
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Back pain
- Severe muscle aches
After few days characteristic smallpox appears as flat, red spots or lesions. In a day or two small blisters appear which slowly get filled with fluid. In two or three days the pus can seen in the blisters. It is from this time smallpox become contagious and is considered contagious until the last smallpox scab falls off.
The rash primarily appears on face, hands and forearms and later it manifests on trunk. The palms of hands and soles of the feet show the rash clearly. Following are the stages of the smallpox:
- Early rash
- Pustualar rash
- Pustules and scabs
- Resolving scabs
- Scabs resolved
During all the above stages one or more of the above mentioned symptoms may be present. The dried scab may fall off over a period of time. The entire process of curing may take three to four weeks of time but the areas affected by the rash can be permanently scarred.
Complications if the Symptoms of Smallpox are Ignored:
- Eye infections
- Brain Arthritis
- Bone Infections
- Severe Bleeding
- Skin infections
Facts and Statistics on Smallpox Virus:
- In 1977, a massive program was launched by the World Health Organization which wiped out all the virus of this disease.
- The United States stopped giving vaccination for this disease in 1972 and in 1980 other countries were also given the instructions to stop the vaccination by WHO in 1980.
- It is not known for how long the past vaccination remains effective.
- According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people vaccinated in past and those who were never vaccinated to be at risk of getting infected if ever this virus returns.
- At present the virus is available only in two laboratories of WHO, one in Russia and the other in the the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.
- There are some reports of the virus being used in the weapons of mass destruction. Thus there are only eo risk factors of this virus. Either working in the laboratory containing this virus or being in an environment where the virus is released.
- Research studies have revealed that the virus can stay alive for 6 hours in unfavourable conditions as long as 24 hours in favourable conditions.
- The virus can stay alive in the clothes and bed linens of people for longer period of time and not more than 50-100 cases of this disease diagnosed can raise an international concern.
- Once the symptoms of the disease becomes apparent, treatment options become limited.