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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts.

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What should I know about smallpox

Smallpox is an acute, contagious, and sometimes fatal disease caused by the variola virus (an orthopoxvirus), and marked by fever and a distinctive progressive skin rash. In 1980, the disease was declared eradicated following worldwide vaccination programs.

Is smallpox fatal?
The majority of patients with smallpox recover, but death may occur in up to 30% of cases. Many smallpox survivors have permanent scars over large areas of their body, especially their face. Some are left blind.

Is there any treatment for smallpox?
Smallpox can be prevented through use of the smallpox vaccine. There is no proven treatment for smallpox, but research to evaluate new antiviral agents is ongoing.

Is small pox vaccine available in the United States?
Smallpox vaccine is not available to the public; it is only available to bioterrorism response teams, selected laboratory workers, and military personnel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that the general public be vaccinated with smallpox vaccine; therefore, smallpox vaccine is not available for public distribution.

The United States military has a smallpox vaccination program. Additional information is available at the CDC website