Smallpox is a viral disease that is extremely contagious. Though smallpox was declared eradicated from the earth in 1980, recent events have emphasized the need to prepare for a biologic attack using smallpox as a weapon.
Smallpox is highly contagious and is most often spread by people who have close face to face contact with an infected person. The initial symptoms of smallpox occur 7-17 days after exposure and include: fever, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting and muscle aches. By the fourth day, the fever drops and is replaced by a rash of thickened spots and then raised pustules in the skin. Over time, the pustules form into scabs and fall off. This process can take 3-4 weeks.