Smallpox: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 2/19/2022

Smallpox is an infectious disease of the past. Smallpox was the first disease to be eliminated from the world through public health efforts and vaccination, but the infection still poses a threat because people could use existing laboratory strains of variola as biological weapons.

Signs and symptoms of smallpox include

  • high fever,
  • overall discomfort,
  • severe fatigue, and a
  • characteristic rash that usually includes fluid-filled blisters that occur everywhere on the body.

Approximately one-third of people with smallpox died from the disease. Survivors were scarred for life. Infection of the eye could lead to blindness.

Cause of Smallpox

Infection with the variola virus causes smallpox. The virus spreads from person to person by infected droplets in coughs and sneezes. It is highly contagious.

Other smallpox symptoms and signs

  • Characteristic Rash That Usually Includes Fluid Filled-Blisters That Occur Everywhere on the Body
  • High Fever
  • Overall Discomfort
  • Severe Fatigue


Bacterial Infections 101: Types, Symptoms, and Treatments See Slideshow

Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.