For a very long time, I used to confuse chicken pox for smallpox, little did I know that there might be some type of brief similarity between the two but the difference is extremely clear. My post today is going to major on smallpox, but just before we get into the detailed description of smallpox, I'll love to first highlight the significantly clear difference between smallpox and chicken pox, this is to set the difference clear before we dive deep into the topic at hand.
While there may be some sort of similarities between smallpox and chicken pox because of the features of blisters and rashes common with them and because of the pox in their names, they should never be confused for each other because they are completely different diseases.
Smallpox has gone into extinction while chicken pox is still around: The chickenpox vaccine has made it really rare to find chicken pox around lately, but before the vaccine became really common, chicken pox was very common, especially in kids, but in the case of smallpox, the chances of getting it are extremely low and ever since the vaccine has been introduced, the disease has gone into complete extinction.
Medical experts know the difference: The rashes may appear similar to those of us who are untrained, medical experts however can clearly tell the difference between chicken pox and smallpox rashes. Chickenpox rashes usually appear in different regions usually around the back, chest, and stomach region but in the case of smallpox, the rashes are spread all over the body at the same time without any form of a time interval.
Vaccine Intake: Chicken pox might be a mild form of the disease, but it could end up creating serious issues, especially in babies and even adults who have a weak immune system, hence the need for suggested timely vaccination. In the case of the smallpox vaccine, however, people no longer have to take it, since there is no one to contact smallpox from anymore.
Smallpox is a deadly disease while chicken pox is not: It is very easy for anyone to catch chicken pox, it is caused by a virus called varicella, it comes with itchy blisters all over the body which eventually results in scabs, chicken pox is also accompanied with tiredness and fever, it would usually take 5-7 days before it disappears. In the case of smallpox, however, it is a more serious condition even if the symptoms are likewise accompanied by rashes, blisters, and fever just like that of chicken pox, it is caused by a virus, known as variola. According to statistics, 3 out of 10 people who got the virus, eventually died, and the people who survived it either developed permanent scars or became blind.
Now that we have successfully established the difference between chicken pox and smallpox, we can get into the main topic at hand.
What makes smallpox deadly?
Smallpox is a contagious viral infection that could even cause disfigurement to its victim, smallpox has affected thousands of humans over the years but was completely wiped out in the year 1980 with the viral spread of the smallpox vaccine. Although samples of the virus are still kept in the lab and this is because some researchers claim it could someday be used as a form of bioweapon.
After exposure to the smallpox virus, the symptoms become visible after 12-14 days, the incubation stage of smallpox usually takes 7-19 days, and it is after the incubation stage that the human carrying the virus begins to feel sick and begins to show symptoms like; fever, headache, serious back pain, vomiting, extreme fatigue, and muscle ache.
A few days after the display of these symptoms, usually flat red spots begin to appear on the body, the red spot may start with the mouth and the tongue and then spreads to other parts of the skin such as the arms, legs, and even the face, within a few days, the created spots begin to turn into little blisters filled with fluid and after some time, the blisters get filled with pus. The created sores are known as pustules, after about 9 days, scabs begin to form around the region, eventually falling off and creating deep pitted scars.
Smallpox can be spread through;
Direct contact: The virus can be caught just by being around a person who has the virus, it can be caught through sneezing, coughing, and even talking. Contact with someone who has skin sores could also cause infection of the virus.
Indirect contact: Although these cases are rare, smallpox can spread through the air, infecting those in the same building.
Contaminated items: When someone with the virus comes in contact with contaminated items, the possibility of contracting the virus is also high.
Terrorist weapon: I mentioned earlier that a sample of smallpox is still kept in laboratories, with the intention of using it as a deadly weapon since the release of the virus would become a global issue.
The origin of smallpox still remains unidentified, it could be traced back to Egyptian mummies, which has been existing for around 3,000 years. The spread of the disease could however be traced to civilization and explorations.
One of the early developed techniques for controlling smallpox was variolation, this process is named after the virus causing smallpox. This process had those who had never had smallpox be exposed to smallpox material, this was done by scratching the material into their arm or having them inhale it through the nose. After the variolation process, people often develop more of the symptoms associated with the smallpox virus, such as rash and fever, those who got chicken pox through variation survived more than those who got chicken pox naturally. Even if the method of variolation reduced the high rate of death from getting smallpox, it was not a credible way to stop the spread of the virus, until vaccination, came along.
Vaccination started in the year 1796, the English doctor known as ''Edward Jenner'', realized the presence of milkmaids that have gotten cowpox did not have chicken pox, since Jenner knew about variation as well, he simply guesses that getting exposed to cowpox could help in developing the prevention to smallpox. This theory was tested and over time, it became widely accepted as it replaced variolation gradually, after some years, precisely in the 1800s, the virus used in the creation of smallpox changed from cowpox to ''vaccinia virus''.
In cases of outbreak indicating small pores, people with the viral condition are isolated first, in order to stop the spread of the virus, then an appropriate vaccine would reduce your ability to get the vaccine.
There are people who react to the vaccine, basically those with a life-threatening conditions like;
- Heart attack or heart pain.
- Heart inflammation.
- An extreme level of rash like eczema vaccinatum.
- Troubled sleeping.
- Swollen lymph.
Smallpox is highly deadly, but gladly we no longer have to worry about it, thanks to the helpful vaccine that has sent the deadly virus into extinction, chicken pox is still very much around and should not be confused for smallpox.