THE smallpox (also known as bladder) is an infectious disease.
It is caused by an Orthopoxvirus, one of the largest viruses that infect humans, about 300 nanometers in diameter, which is large enough to be seen as a point under the light microscope.
More than black plague, tuberculosis or even AIDS, smallpox has affected mankind significantly for over 10,000 years. Mummies, such as that of Ramses V, which dates from 1157 BC, show typical signs of smallpox - which has been regarded as the leading cause of death in our country since its discovery.
Unknown until recently, little was known about the transmission of disease caused by viruses.
In the case of smallpox, it occurs by contact with sick people or objects that have come into contact with the saliva or secretions of these individuals.
Penetrating the body, the pathogen spreads through the bloodstream and settles mainly in the skin region, causing high fever, malaise, body aches and gastric problems. Soon after these manifestations, numerous pus-filled lumps appear throughout the body, which hardly cease without leaving scars, and confer intense itching and pain.
The risk of blindness due to corneal involvement, and death from bronchopneumonia or opportunistic diseases, as such manifestations compromise the immune system, are risks that the infected individual is subject to.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The diagnosis is made by analysis by the electron microscope of liquid of the pustules. Viruses are characteristic and easily visible. Smallpox has no cure. The only effective measure is vaccination.
Caused by Orthopoxvirus variolae, is considered by the World Health Organization eradicated since the late seventies, thanks to vaccination. In this regard, it is attributed to Edward Jenner the discovery that prior contact with the virus - or particles of it - could protect people against it. Then were born the first principles of the vaccine, which is able to protect us to this day against other diseases, such as polio and rubella.
Although controlled, some samples of the virus remain officially housed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (United States) and at the State Center for Virology and Biotechnology Research in Koltsovo (Russia). This factor causes concern regarding the use of these organisms as biological weapons, especially considering that younger individuals have not been vaccinated against this disease and, therefore, are not immune to this incurable disease.
Opinions on whether or not these particles are destroyed are long and controversial, but so far they remain where they are.