Quantcast

What is smallpox and how does the clinical presentation differ from chickenpox?

Smallpox is one of the most devastating diseases in the history of mankind. Believed to originate more than three millennia in India or Egypt, epidemics caused by smallpox have decimated populations across continents.

This 1967 photograph, which was captured in Accra, Ghana, depicts the hands, and knee region of both legs of a smallpox patient, displaying the characteristic maculopapular rash due to this viral disease. Image/CDC

This 1967 photograph, which was captured in Accra, Ghana, depicts the hands, and knee region of both legs of a smallpox patient, displaying the characteristic maculopapular rash due to this viral disease.
Image/CDC

Thanks to a campaign of universal vaccination the last naturally occurring case of smallpox was in October 1977 in Somalia. Two years later the World Health Organization (WHO) certified it as eradicated. This was sanctioned by the World Health Assembly (WHA) on May 1980.

There were two types of smallpox recognized in the 20th century; variola minor which had a fatality rate of less than 1%, and variola major which had a fatality rate of around 30%.

Initially after infection with the virus, prior to getting the rash, there was a period of sudden onset of high fever, headache, backache and malaise. After 2-4 days, the rash would begin to appear.

The rash progressed through several stages; from raised bumps to fluid- filled, hard and firm vesicles with a depressed center resembling a belly button.

The lesions appear on the face and extremities, including the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. The lesions are at the same stage of development in a given area.

Rarely, in 5-10% of smallpox patients, variola major would take a fulminant, hemorrhagic course where it was rapidly fatal. In such patients, the lesions are so densely confluent that the skin looks like crepe rubber; some patients’ exhibit bleeding into the skin and intestinal tract.

Smallpox is extremely contagious via respiratory secretions or direct contact with fluids with an incubation period of 12 days average. The illness usually lasts 4 weeks and the person would be contagious until all the lesions scabbed over and fell off in 3-4 weeks leaving pitted scars.

It is exclusively a human disease with no known animal or environmental reservoir hosts.

So how does the clinical presentation of smallpox differ from chickenpox? During the first 2 to 3 days of rash, it may be all but impossible to distinguish between the two. However, after that:

 

Fever Smallpox

2 to 4 days before rash

Chickenpox

At the time of the rash

Rash Pocks at the same stage of development, deep seated Pocks in several stages (crops), superficial
Distribution More pocks on the extremities More pocks on the trunk

 

Pocks on the palms and soles Usually present Usually absent
Death 30% Rare

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page

Looking for a job in health care? Check here to see what’s available

 

Chagas in Black and White: T-shirts, coffee mugs and other merchandise featuring the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi

Giardia in Black and White: T-shirts, coffee mugs and other merchandise with a clean, computerized image of a Giardia intestinalis trophozoite

Blood flukes in Black and White : T-shirts, coffee mugs and other merchandise with a clean, computerized image of the three schistosomes

About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

Tags
Displaying 16 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. […] What is smallpox and how does the clinical presentation differ from chickenpox? […]

  2. […] What is smallpox and how does the clinical presentation differ from chickenpox? […]

  3. Smallpox drug: NDA submitted to FDA - Outbreak News Today says:

    […] What is smallpox and how does the clinical presentation differ from chickenpox? […]

  4. Biological weapons in North Korea: Report outlines what is known and unknown - Outbreak News Today says:

    […] What is smallpox and how does the clinical presentation differ from chickenpox? […]

  5. Horsepox vaccine to prevent smallpox infection: ‘A safer vaccine to protect against smallpox’ | The Global Dispatch says:

    […] What is smallpox and how does the clinical presentation differ from chickenpox? […]

  6. New Zealand: Southern district to offer free chickenpox vaccine - Outbreak News Today says:

    […] What is smallpox and how does the clinical presentation differ from chickenpox? […]

  7. Bioterrorism - Outbreak News Today says:

    […] What is smallpox and how does the clinical presentation differ from chickenpox? […]

  8. Pakistan: Chickenpox outbreak claims 16 lives in past 4 months in Faisalabad - Outbreak News Today says:

    […] What is smallpox and how does the clinical presentation differ from chickenpox? […]

  9. Chickenpox affects dozens in Brooklyn Orthodox Jewish community | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] What is smallpox and how does the clinical presentation differ from chickenpox? […]

  10. Chickenpox surge reported on Turks and Caicos, Providenciales hit hardest | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] What is smallpox and how does the clinical presentation differ from chickenpox? […]

  11. Chickenpox outbreaks prompt warnings in southern Michigan | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] What is smallpox and how does the clinical presentation differ from chickenpox? […]

  12. Chickenpox cluster reported at Clearwater school | hairhealth.science says:

    […] What is smallpox and how does the clinical presentation differ from chickenpox? […]

  13. Chickenpox cluster reported at Clearwater school | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] What is smallpox and how does the clinical presentation differ from chickenpox? […]

  14. Chickenpox strikes the Kansas City Royals, sidelines Rios, Herrera | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] What is smallpox and how does the clinical presentation differ from chickenpox? […]

  15. US government orders $133 million of smallpox vaccine | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] Related: What is smallpox and how does the clinical presentation differ from chickenpox?  […]

  16. Update on biological samples found in FDA lab at the NIH - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] Related: What is smallpox and how does the clinical presentation differ from chickenpox? […]

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



Recent Posts

June 20, 2019, Comments Off on

Categories

Archives