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Smallpox (cont.)

What Are Smallpox Risk Factors?

Because smallpox has been eradicated, the only risk factor today for contracting the virus is working in a laboratory with the virus or in the event of a biological weapons attack.

In the past, risk factors for smallpox included contact with a person with smallpox, contact with infected bodily fluids or contaminated surfaces, or exposure to aerosolized particles (such as from a cough or sneeze) from a person with smallpox.

Is Smallpox Contagious?

Smallpox is highly contagious and mainly spreads from person to person by inhalation. However, infectious smallpox virus particles can remain viable on surfaces, clothing, and bedding for up to one week.

What Is the Contagious Period for Smallpox?

Once the initial symptoms of smallpox appear (high fever, malaise, headache and body aches, and vomiting), people may start to be contagious. This is called the prodrome phase, and it can last from two to four days.

The most contagious period is once the rash develops, and this can last from seven to 10 days following the onset of the rash.

What Is the Smallpox Incubation Period?

After exposure to the smallpox virus, the incubation period averages about 12-14 days, but the range can be from seven to 17 days. During this time, people usually do not have any symptoms and are not contagious.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/24/2016

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Smallpox »

Smallpox is an acute contagious disease caused by the variola virus (Poxvirus variolae), a member of the Poxviridae family of the genus Orthopoxvirus.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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