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Small pox

Clifford Bond umbcb at GEMINI.OSCS.MONTANA.EDU
Thu Jan 19 14:59:52 EST 1995

Smallpox is not considered a threat because the only reservoir is humans 
and the last reported naturally acquired case was in 1977.  A laboratory 
associated case occurred in England in 1980.  Since the last naturally 
acquired case was in 1977 and the only reservoir is human, it is unlikely 
that naturally acquired smallpox is much of a threat.  The only known 
stocks of variola virus, the causative agent of smallpox, live in Moscow 
and at the CDC in Atlanta.  Both are scheduled for destruction.

However, consider this scenario.  Suppose that there was a cemetery 
populated with bodies of victims of smallpox from the 1920s or maybe 
earlier.  Someone deems the cemetery property necessary for development 
and all of the bodies must be moved to a new cemetery.  It is a given 
that variola virus can survive for a long period of time, maybe 
years, in the proper environment.  Could this cemetery be a source of 
naturally acquired smallpox?

Cliff Bond

*  Clifford W. Bond               INTERNET: umbcb at gemini.oscs.montana.edu  *
*  Department of Microbiology     Telephone:  406 994-4130                 *
*  Montana State University       TeleFAX:    406 994-4926                 *
*  Bozeman, MT 59717 USA                                                   *

On 18 Jan 1995, Steve Quan wrote:

> Ok,ok I'm just your average layman  with an interest in teeny tiny 
> bugs.  I feel stupid asking, but here goes.  Can anyone tell me WHY 
> small pox is no longer a threat?  I understand about the eradication 
> campaign and that the last case was reported sometime in the late 70's. 
>  Isn't the bug itself still out there somewhere (besides the stuff in 
> deep freeze)? How do they know it's gone?  If answers would be too long 
> for this post can anyone recommend a book?  Pardon my ignorance and 
> thanks.   

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