STATUS OF SMALLPOX: ERADICATION & BIOTERROR:
Although smallpox was declared extinct in the wild in 1979 (last natural infection recorded in 1977) there is increasing concern about its potential use as a biological weapon. Although only two locations officially hold variola (one at the CDC in the USA and one in Russia) it is feared that secret stockpiles exist. Variola has been weaponised in Russia and there is currently concern about bioterrorism. A bioterrorist attack using smallpox (or some variant thereof) could be devastating and the UK and USA are buying vaccines against smallpox.
CLASSIFICATION OF THE SMALLPOX VIRUS
SOME NOTES ON THE POXVIRUSES:
- GENOME: Linear Double Stranded DNA
- Family: Poxviridae
- Subfamily: Chordopoxvirinae
- Genus: Orthopoxvirus
- Species: Variola
The poxviruses are the most complex animal viruses known.
They infect both vertebrates (Chordopoxvirinae) and insects (Entomopoxvirinae).
Amongst the Orthopoxvirus, which infect mammals, some of the better
known members are: Variola (smallpox), Vaccinia, Cowpox, Monkeypox and Camelpox.
FOR INFORMATION ON VIRUSES ENTERING CELLS please see virus
entry into animal cells