Smallpox

Diagnosis

If a smallpox outbreak occurred today, it’s likely that most healthcare providers would not recognize the virus in its early stages, potentially allowing it to spread more widely. Given the severity of the disease, even a single case of smallpox would constitute a public health emergency. To confirm a diagnosis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would utilize specialized laboratories to test tissue samples for the presence of the smallp rich could definitively determine if an individual is infected with the virus.

Treatment

In the event of a smallpox infection, new antiviral medications might be prescribed.

  • Tecovirimat (TPOXX): In 2018, the FDA granted approval for this medication’s use in the United States. It proved effective in lab testing and on animals, according to research. That hasn’t, however, been tried on smallpox patients. Therefore, its effectiveness as a medication alternative is unknown. It was tested on healthy individuals and was confirmed to be safe.
  • Brincidofovir: In 2021, the FDA gave this medication approval for usage in the US. Like tecovirimat, brincidofovir was evaluated by researchers in lab settings and on animals. It has not been tried in smallpox patients. Both healthy individuals and those with different viruses have received it without incident.

Since the eradication of smallpox, these treatments have not been tested on patients with the disease. However, researchers speculate that they could be effective in treating smallpox during a potential epidemic based on alternative forms of testing. Human safety trials have been conducted to assess their viability.