AMI IMAGES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY AMI IMAGES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Smallpox virus particle. Coloured transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of a Variola major virus particle. Each particle consists of a DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid, red) genome surrounded by a protein nucleocapsid (coat, orange). This is enclosed in a matrix of proteins (purple) and the whole virus is enclosed in an envelope (blue). Variola is the most virulent member of the orthopoxvirus group. Infection with V. major causes smallpox, which presents as a fever and skin pustules. It is transmitted by airborne respiratory droplets or by the pus, but was eradicated in the 1970's by a global vaccination programme.
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