AMI IMAGES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY AMI IMAGES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Smallpox virus particles. Coloured transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of Variola major virus particles. Each particle consists of a DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) core surrounded by a protein nucleocapsid (coat, yellow) and a lipid envelope (orange). 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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