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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is smallpox?

Smallpox is a disease caused by a virus. The virus is passed through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread through direct contact with an item that has the virus on it.

What are the signs and symptoms of smallpox?

How is smallpox diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider may be able to diagnose smallpox based on your symptoms and physical exam. He or she may also take a tissue sample from your rash and send it to a lab for tests.

How is smallpox treated?

No medicine will get rid of the smallpox infection. Your healthcare provider will treat your symptoms. You may be given IV liquids to help prevent dehydration. You may need medicine to decrease pain and lower your fever. You may also need antibiotics if you develop a bacterial infection. You can get the smallpox vaccine up to 4 days after you are exposed to the virus. This may prevent a severe infection.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

What should I do if I am exposed to smallpox?

Exposure to smallpox is considered a medical emergency. Call your healthcare provider immediately if you think you have been exposed. You may be isolated in the hospital. You may receive a smallpox vaccine. Anyone who has been in direct contact with you may also need a vaccine. Your healthcare provider will call your local health agency to notify them of your infection.

Where can I find more information about smallpox?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Learn more about Smallpox

Treatment options

Symptoms and treatments

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.