Smallpox, also known as variola, was a dreaded disease at beginning of the last century. It has been eradicated and only exists for research purposes. The disease, which is caused by a virus, is highly contagious. Children and young adults were most at risk for the disease.
Symptoms of smallpox often become severe and include:
In the first week of the disease treatment with antibodies against a similar disease or a smallpox vaccination can help minimize symptoms.
There is a vaccine against smallpox, but because the disease was eradicated it is not readily available. If you suspect you have symptoms of smallpox, see a physician immediately, but keep in mind that your symptoms most likely relate to a different condition.