Smallpox Treatment: An Overview

 Smallpox is a highly contagious viral disease caused by the variola virus. While no longer common due to successful vaccination programs, it still threatens vulnerable populations globally. In this article, we explore the historical treatment approaches for smallpox and current best practices.

Historical Treatment Methods

Prior to the development of vaccination in the late 18th century, treatment options for smallpox were limited and primarily focused on symptomatic relief.

Pustule Management

Early treatments involved lancing pustules with sterile needles once they had filled with pus to prevent disseminated infection. Smallpox Treatment Care was taken to collect draining matter carefully to prevent contact with others. Lesions were also treated with cooling ointments to relieve itching and pain.

Diet and Hydration

Patients were encouraged to consume cooling liquids and a light diet, as the high fevers associated with smallpox caused extreme dehydration. Broths, water, and bland foods were recommended over heavy meals. Good hygiene like sponge baths also helped lower fever and combat secondary infections.


Strict isolation of patients was one of the most effective historical treatments in minimizing disease spread before vaccination. Those infected were kept separately from family in dark, well-ventilated rooms until all scabs had fallen off, usually around 3 weeks after the onset of rash. Linens and dishes used by patients were also boiled or burned.

Modern Treatment Approaches

Thankfully, widespread vaccination has all but eradicated naturally occurring smallpox cases. But risks remain from bioterrorism, and initial treatment still focuses on symptom management.


Vaccination within 3 days of exposure can prevent or significantly lessen the disease course in about 85-90% of cases. The live vaccinia virus induces immunity without causing disease in immunocompetent individuals. Countries maintain vaccine stockpiles in case of an outbreak.

Antiviral Drugs

Experimental treatments using antiviral medications like tecovirimat show promise. Tecovirimat blocks a protein essential to viral replication and has been effective in animal models when given early in infection. Its safety and efficacy in humans still need validation.

Supportive Care

For active cases, treatment aims to ease symptoms and prevent complications. Antipyretics are given for fever, oral rehydration for dehydration, antibiotics for any secondary infections, and pain relievers as needed. Pustules are left untouched unless secondarily infected.

Isolation and Contact Tracing

A suspected case immediately warrants isolation precautions until diagnostically ruled out. Public health conducts rigorous contact tracing and offers post-exposure vaccination/monitoring to contain any potential spread.

Smallpox Legacy and Prevention

This often-fatal disease plagued humanity for millennia before vaccination conquered it. As its eradication stands among public health’s greatest achievements, maintaining vigilance against biothreats remains paramount. Continued global surveillance and prepositioning of medical countermeasures safeguard against potential re-emergence of smallpox in the modern age. Through coordinated global efforts, may its scourge never threaten humanity again.

Get more insights on This Topic- Smallpox Treatment

Si prega di attivare i Javascript! / Please turn on Javascript!

Javaskripta ko calu karem! / Bitte schalten Sie Javascript!

S'il vous plaît activer Javascript! / Por favor, active Javascript!

Qing dakai JavaScript! / Qing dakai JavaScript!

Пожалуйста включите JavaScript! / Silakan aktifkan Javascript!