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Bio-Terror Weapon-Smallpox

Bio-Terror Weapon-Smallpox

The etiology of the disease

Worldwide, smallpox was the first infectious disease to be eradicated. Smallpox is a viral infectious disease caused by poxviruses. Poxviruses account for the most significant viral pathogens and are characterized by their brick-shaped appearance on microscopy. The viruses have a double-stranded linear DNA genome and measure about 300nm-350nm in length (Bonville & Suryadevara, 2021). The genetic makeup of the viruses codes for all the proteins of replication and hence their capability to image in the host’s cytoplasm.

The current state of the world’s immunity to smallpox

Before eradicating the smallpox infection, supportive care was the only mode of treatment. Consequently, after the eradication, there has been ongoing research for developing medical drugs to treat smallpox (Meyer et al., 2020). Eradication of the infection was successfully eradicated globally through vaccination against the poxvirus. Over time, several vaccines against smallpox have been developed, starting with intentional inoculation of smallpox from an infected individual to a healthy individual, variolation, and nonimmune contact for the development of immunity. These techniques, however, posed a higher risk of severe infection and even death. The vaccines that were then developed included cowpox and vaccinia. Vaccinia is the most utilized vaccine currently.

How effective (or ineffective) a smallpox weapon might be, and the kind of defense could be mounted against such an attack

As stated, smallpox can be prevented through vaccines such as the vaccinia vaccine. The vaccine is manufactured from a vaccine known as vaccinia, which is also a poxvirus but less virulent than smallpox (Melamed et al., 2018). The vaccine effectively protects people against becoming sick of smallpox or making the infection less severe. However, the vaccine is impractical for long-term prevention and should be given before or within the first week after contact (Melamed et al., 2018). Interestingly, once an individual has developed smallpox rashes, the vaccine cannot offer any benefits. Once infected with smallpox, an individual develops immunity against subsequent exposure, making eradication successful.


Bonville, C., & Suryadevara, M. (2021). Smallpox. In Vaccines (pp. 333-342). Springer, Cham.

Melamed, S., Israely, T., & Paran, N. (2018). Challenges and achievements in prevention and treatment of smallpox. Vaccines6(1), 8.

Meyer, H., Ehmann, R., & Smith, G. L. (2020). Smallpox in the post-eradication era. Viruses12(2), 138.


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Bio-Terror Weapon-Smallpox

Bio-Terror Weapon-Smallpox

Smallpox has been widely reported as a possible bio-terror weapon.

Explain what you know about the etiology of the disease.
Include what you know about the current state of the world’s immunity to smallpox.
Discuss how effective (or ineffective) a smallpox weapon might be.
Include what kind of defense could be mounted against such an attack.

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