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Viruses 2017, 9(9), 242;

Are We Prepared in Case of a Possible Smallpox-Like Disease Emergence?

Poxvirus and Rabies Branch, Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
Department of Genomic Research and Development of DNA Diagnostics of Poxviruses, State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR, Koltsovo, 630559 Novosibirsk Region, Russia
Department of Molecular Biology, Novosibirsk State University, 630090 Novosibirsk, Russia
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Hermann Meyer, Jônatas Abrahão and Erna Geessien Kroon
Received: 20 July 2017 / Revised: 22 August 2017 / Accepted: 23 August 2017 / Published: 27 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smallpox and Emerging Zoonotic Orthopoxviruses: What Is Coming Next?)
Full-Text   |   PDF [275 KB, uploaded 27 August 2017]


Smallpox was the first human disease to be eradicated, through a concerted vaccination campaign led by the World Health Organization. Since its eradication, routine vaccination against smallpox has ceased, leaving the world population susceptible to disease caused by orthopoxviruses. In recent decades, reports of human disease from zoonotic orthopoxviruses have increased. Furthermore, multiple reports of newly identified poxviruses capable of causing human disease have occurred. These facts raise concerns regarding both the opportunity for these zoonotic orthopoxviruses to evolve and become a more severe public health issue, as well as the risk of Variola virus (the causative agent of smallpox) to be utilized as a bioterrorist weapon. The eradication of smallpox occurred prior to the development of the majority of modern virological and molecular biological techniques. Therefore, there is a considerable amount that is not understood regarding how this solely human pathogen interacts with its host. This paper briefly recounts the history and current status of diagnostic tools, vaccines, and anti-viral therapeutics for treatment of smallpox disease. The authors discuss the importance of further research to prepare the global community should a smallpox-like virus emerge. View Full-Text
Keywords: smallpox; Variola virus; antivirals; vaccine smallpox; Variola virus; antivirals; vaccine
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Olson, V.A.; Shchelkunov, S.N. Are We Prepared in Case of a Possible Smallpox-Like Disease Emergence? Viruses 2017, 9, 242.

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