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Smallpox Update

Atlanta, GA -
The last naturally acquired case of smallpox (variola virus) occurred in Somalia in October 1977 and global eradication was certified by the World Health Organization two years later. After eradication, some variola stocks were held for research purposes but under tight security at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, GA and in the State Research Center in Kaltsov, Russia. Before it was eradicated the fatality rate was 20 to 40% for unvaccinated victims exposed to the smallpox virus.

Since September 11, 2001 there has been an increased concern that the variola virus might fall into the possession of terrorists and be used for biowarfare or bioterrorism. Thus health care workers have been asked to become familiar with the clinical and epidemiologic features of smallpox and how to distinguish it from chickenpox. Plans have also been made to protect the general population against a potential attack and include the expansion of the stockpiles of vaccinia virus, which was the immunizing agent used to eradicate smallpox, and the development of recombinant vaccines.

In addition a “ring method” plan to quickly immunize all known contacts including health workers, followed by a rapid voluntary vaccination of a large population, has been adopted as the recommended approach in a post-exposure situation. Historically, the vaccine has been proven effective in preventing smallpox infection in 95% of those vaccinated. Moreover, the vaccine has been proven to prevent or substantially lessen infection even when given within a few days after exposure to smallpox.

Early this year the pre-exposure vaccination of thousands of health care workers, high-risk persons, and military servicemen and women began in earnest. According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, as of the end of May, 2003 over 37,000 civilians have been vaccinated nationally, including over 23,000 heathcare response team members and over 11,000 public health response team members. Additionally, the Department of Defense has vaccinated over 430,000 military servicemen and women.

The so-called more reliable press followed the smallpox scare only a few months, then stopped reporting on it when the public hysteria subsided. However, TheRealTruth has continued to follow the smallpox story, as we do all stories, and we have recently acquired some new information. According to sources within the CDC who must remain anonymous for obvious reasons, recent studies show that the smallpox vaccine given to millions of Americans before 1971 may still be effective in preventing the disease.

New studies performed by the CDC have detected antibodies against the variola virus in persons who were vaccinated against smallpox up to 75 years ago. Whether those antibodies are effective in preventing smallpox is still unknown, but the CDC studies are continuing. The hope is that millions of Americans may not need to be revaccinated.


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