Smallpox is an infection caused by the virus called variola (pronounced vuh-RY-uh-luh). Throughout history, smallpox has been a greatly feared disease. It has been responsible for huge epidemics worldwide. The disease has caused great suffering and many deaths.
- The first symptoms of smallpox were fever and chills, muscle aches, and a flat, reddish-purple rash on the chest, abdomen, and back. These symptoms lasted for about three days. Then the rash faded and the fever dropped.
- A day or two later, the fever would return. A bumpy rash would begin to appear on the feet, hands, and face. The rash then spread to the chest, abdomen, and back. The individual bumps in the rash filled with clear fluid. They eventually became filled with pus over a period of ten to twelve days.
- The bumps (pox) eventually form scabs. When the scabs fell off, a small pit is left on the skin.