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Smallpox infection

Smallpox infection

M260/0395

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Credit

TIM VERNON, LTH NHS TRUST / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY TIM VERNON, LTH NHS TRUST / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Smallpox infection. Simulation of a doctor stroking the head of a patient infected with smallpox. Her skin is covered in the pustules (blisters) characteristic of the disease. Smallpox is a contagious viral disease that attacks the skin cells of humans. It is caused by the virus variants Variola major and Variola minor. The virus is spread by prolonged contact with infected bodily fluids or contaminated objects. In the worst form of the disease, the pustules merge together and the skin separates from the underlying flesh. A global vaccination program led to the complete eradication of smallpox by 1979. However, stocks of the virus are held by the US and Russia.

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