Small Pox Essay Sample

Small pox is a deadly and highly contagious disease from the orthopox genus viruses. It is referred to by the scientific community as Variola. The disease has caused more devastation to human kind than any other disease in history (Yanturali, 2005).

Widespread vaccinations resulted in the eradication of the disease in October 1977, where the last case was reported in October 26, 1977 in an unvaccinated Somali cook who naturally contracted the disease. All the remaining small pox virus supplies were supposed to be destroyed then, or sequestered in two laboratories – Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, and the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology in Koltsovo, Russia. We cannot rule out the possibility of the virus falling in the wrong hands of terrorists. This would be catastrophic since small pox has been found to be a perfect bioterrorism weapon.

The fact that the virus is still in the two laboratories, and can as well be genetically engineered, then the Midwest is not entirely immune to this virus.  Re-vaccination is not an option many people would embrace too easily given the fatalities of the resulting vaccine complications. Since the virus has somehow been contained, I would consider its re-emergence by figure of eight cases of small pox within my jurisdiction as a case of bioterrorism.

Aerosolization is the main method of exposure to the smallpox virus in cases of terrorism. It mainly includes isolating the agent, cultivation, concentration, drying, milling and finally aerosolizing it. Terrorists use the virus to hurt other people by releasing the virus in public places. Those not infected eventually contract the virus through breathing in the virus from a cough, sneeze or saliva (spit) of someone with the disease. Touching the skin of someone with smallpox skin blisters as well as touching contaminated body fluids or objects such as beddings or clothing from the infected is also a way of exposure to the virus.

Inhalation of the virus especially in congested places such as rooms, bus, train or other means of transport shared with people with smallpox exposes the healthy population.

Sharing cutting instruments and other personal items with smallpox patients is another way of contracting the disease. (Martin et al, 2005).Caretakers for smallpox patients are as well highly exposed unless appropriate precautionary measures are put in place to avoid transmission. Hospital attendants are not immune to the risk of contracting the disease through latrogenic transmission.

The Department would respond by utilizing appropriate standards and precautions that would ensure disease is contained. It would contact the FBI or other wise open a case report and assist other first responders such as the health department in isolating those infected from the susceptible population. Vaccination for those people who have had contact with smallpox patients would be done as soon as possible. Although it has been indicated that some individuals may react adversely to the vaccine, optional vaccination would be encouraged to protect those who have not been infected. Those not willing to be vaccinated and might have been exposed will be isolated for a period of not less than 20 days as they are closely examined for symptoms of the disease.  Immediately a case of small pox is reported, vaccines will be requested from ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’ to protect people at risk of exposure. The department would liaise with the health department to ensure that all laundry and bedding for the infected are placed in biological bags and autoclaved or laundered in hot water to which bleach has been added. The department would work with the health department to ensure that all waste materials used in hospitals attending the infected is placed in biohazard bags and autoclaved before being incinerated   (Goldstein et al, 2003)