The smallpox virus.

Essay by kennelHigh School, 10th gradeA+, November 2003

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Alex Ostrovsky 11/18/03


When you hear the word Smallpox, what comes to mind? You may know it's a disease, but what kind of a disease? Is it a version of Chicken pox? Does it just go away by itself or do you die from it? To begin to answer some of these questions we have to start from the beginning. One interesting thing about Smallpox is that nobody knows where it originated. Smallpox might have started in Africa or in Asia. Even though we are uncertain of its origins, we do know that this virus killed millions of people around the world. One reason the virus was such a big killer is that the Smallpox virus was transmitted by air. Since there is no way to control the movement of air across the world, containment of the virus proved difficult.

Now I will describe the structure and progression of the virus.

The virus consisted of a single molecule of a double-stranded DNA. There is a twelve-day incubation period in which the virus reproduces in the lymphoid tissues. The virus enters the blood on the 2ND or 3rd day, and causes a fever. During this time the virus starts to spread throughout the whole body. Antibodies are formed on the 4th or 5th day of the viremia. On the 6th or 7th day, the virus produces little red dots across the whole body. On the 8th or 9th day crusting begins and the dots turn into scabs, and eventually the scabs split the skin. Most people die by the time the virus is in the scab stage because of excessive blood loss due to disordered blood coagulation (DIC). There is interior bleeding and vital organs deteriorate. If the person survives long enough the scabs fall off, and that means...