Bioterrorism with Smallpox

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Bioterrorism: Smallpox

Smallpox is a highly infectious and fatal disease caused by the Variola virus. It causes extremely painful pustules to sprout across the entire body. Spread from human to human, it has since been eradicated from the world through the efforts of the World Health Organization. However, there is a distinct possibility that it may be reintroduced through bioterrorism. Biological weapons may cause another pandemic to erupt across the world and kill millions of individuals. Through constant vigilance and careful planning, mankind can prevent this scenario.

During the course of human history, pandemic diseases have threatened the balance of civilization itself. Viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other infectious agents have changed the way we eat, sleep, and live our lives. One of these scourges was smallpox, a highly infectious and deadly disease that causes boils to sprout on the entire body. Once endemic to the entire world, it has been wiped out with mass vaccination efforts by the World Health Organization with the last reported case being in 1977 in Somalia (Tucker 118). The threat of the virus still looms over us, however, with the advent of the age of terrorism. Its transmission method (human to human), the lack of effective treatment, its high mortality rate, and its ease of weaponization has compelled the Centers for Disease Control to classify it as a Category A bioterrorist agent with the highest potential for use as a weapon against civilians (Ryan 41).

The smallpox disease is caused by the Variola virus, a virus of the Orthopox family, which also includes cowpox, monkeypox, and other related diseases (Tucker 5). Two variants


have appeared; Variola major, the more common and deadly form, and Vario...

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Henderson, Donald A., et al. “Smallpox as a Biological Weapon: Medical and Public Health Management.” Journal of the American Medical Association 281.22 (June 1999). 24 July 2008 .

Medical College of Wisconsin. “Facts About Anthrax and Smallpox as Bioterrorism Weapons.” Healthlink. 12 Nov. 2001. Medical College of Wisconsin. 24 July 2008 .

Ryan, Jeffrey R., and Jan F. Glarum. Biosecurity & Bioterrorism: Containing and Preventing Biological Threats. Oxford: Elsevier Inc., 2008.

Tucker, Jonathan B. Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2001.

World Health Organization. “Smallpox.” World Health Organization. 24 July 2008 .
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