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Euro Surveill. 2004 Dec 15;9(12):E7-8.

Bichat guidelines for the clinical management of smallpox and bioterrorism-related smallpox.

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Task Force on Biological and Chemical Agent Threats, Public Health Directorate, European Commission, Luxembourg.


Smallpox is a viral infection caused by the variola virus. It was declared eradicated worldwide by the Word Health Organization in 1980 following a smallpox eradication campaign. Smallpox is seen as one of the viruses most likely to be used as a biological weapon. The variola virus exists legitimately in only two laboratories in the world. Any new case of smallpox would have to be the result of human accidental or deliberate release. The aerosol infectivity, high mortality, and stability of the variola virus make it a potential and dangerous threat in biological warfare. Early detection and diagnosis are important to limit the spread of the disease. Patients with smallpox must be isolated and managed, if possible, in a negative-pressure room until death or until all scabs have been shed. There is no established antiviral treatment for smallpox. The most effective prevention is vaccination before exposure.

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