Signs and Symptoms of Smallpox, Control and Treatment

Smallpox is a communicable disease. The symptoms of smallpox usually begin 12-15 days after the person makes contact with the virus; this period between the person catching the infection and feeling ill is called incubation period, and differs in each disease. First comes a high fever and shivering (rigors), then severe headache, backache, and aches in the limbs; there may be some coughing too. Two or 3 days later the rash breaks out and with it the patient becomes even more ill, and usually many die of smallpox.

How Smallpox is Distributed

The way smallpox gets distributed around the body goes as follows;

There will be more spots on the face and limbs than on the trunk, and on the face - the rash may be thicker on the upper than the lower.

On the leg it is thickest on the feet, and thicker on the lower leg than the upper.

On the arms it is thickest on the hands, and usually thicker on the forearm than the upper arm–infact it is centrifugal–running away from the center.

It avoids flexures–protected parts such as the axillae and groin, and appears particularly on exposed and irritated parts.

Evolution of the rash. First macules (blotches) appear, then papules (raised see spots), then vesicles (little blisters containthog clear fluid), then pustules (blisters containing pus) and finally, if the patient survives, then 'scabs'.

This gradual change from macule to pustule takes 6-8 days in smallpox. A very severe thick rash with spots touching each other gives a poor a poor prognosis.

There are two kinds of smallpox–smallpox major (variola major), and smallpox minor (variola minor or alastrim). Major smallpox kills over half of those infected, while alastrim kills only 1 percent (though it can disfigure the face and cause blindness as much as major smallpox can).

Cause. The smallpox virus.

Source. Always other people who have the disease.

Smallpox Route

By aerial spread, droplet infection, and close contact, or from anything the patient has touched such as cup, spoon, bedpan, clothes, bedding. Thus laundry workers can get it even though they never see the patient at all.

Moreover, the disease can also spread to those who bury the corpses of smallpox patients. It is highly infectious.

Smallpox Susceptibles

All who have never been vaccinated or had the disease are in danger of smallpox infection. Also, old, people who have not been vaccinated since they were children 40 years or more ago.

Those people who have been vaccinated within 3 years seldom contract the disease.Those who were last vaccinated 10 or 20 years before might also be infected by the disease ones they were exposed but there's is mild, with few spots only, and death cases are very rare (modified smallpox).

Smallpox Treatment

Because this is such a highly infectious disease, cases should be removed to an isolation ward and not be nursed at home. Removal of a case should be supervised and all contacts must be vaccinated.There is no readily available treatment that affects the virus, so only penicillin and other antibiotics can be given for secondary infection such as pneumonia.

Eyedrops of sulphacetamide or tetracycline eye ointment should be used if the eye is involved. The patient must have adequate fluids.

Smallpox Prevention

By vaccinating all infants, and revaccinating them when they are at school and again in adult life, especially when there is any case of smallpox in the neighbourhood. Mass vaccination campaigns. Surveillance for cases.

Vaccination Technic. Multipile pressure with bifurcated needle.

Control of Smallpox Epidemic

Isolation of all cases in a special smallpox hospital. Examination and vaccination of all contacts.

Mass vaccination of the whole country, especially at borders of districts, and in towns/cities where new people meet.