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Smallpox (20th Century)

Smallpox is considered one of the deadliest human pathogenic diseases, and has been responsible for hundreds of millions of deaths worldwide. Although the virus was officially declared eradicated in 1980, repositories remain. A reintroduction of the virus into an unprotected population could cause substantial morbidity and mortality. Minimizing the impact of a smallpox outbreak requires coordination of emergency personnel, medical staff, and government officials.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smallpox is a highly infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either Variola major or Variola minor, with overall mortality rates of approximately 30 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Both variants are easily spread through human vapor droplets (i.e., coughing or sneezing), when inhaled by persons in close proximity.

WHO reports that between 20 and 60 ...

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