Were you or a relative ever tested for or diagnosed with smallpox? Please share your experience.
Share your story with others:
MedicineNet appreciates your comment. Your comment may be displayed on the site and will always be published anonymously.
How is smallpox diagnosed?
When smallpox was common, an experienced clinician could make the diagnosis simply by looking at the rash and examining the patient. Any case that occurs now will likely be a result of bioterrorism or biological warfare. In that event, misdiagnosis or delays in diagnosis could cause the infection to spread. Thus, it is still important for clinicians to be able to diagnose smallpox. The CDC has developed an online tool to help clinicians assess the likelihood that a rash is due to smallpox.
If smallpox appears possible, public-health authorities should be notified immediately and their instructions on the protective measures for medical caregivers and others are followed carefully. They can help determine if additional testing is warranted. Material from blisters, throat swabs, and blood samples may be tested for the presence of variola DNA or cultured. These tests are done at the CDC and require prior authorization. The person(s) obtaining the specimens should have a recent smallpox vaccination (within three years) or no contraindication to immediate vaccination.
Figure 2: Picture of smallpox in a child. SOURCE: Dr. Jean Roy/CDC