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Highlighting Variola Virus

They are some types of skin disorders that are caused by viruses that enter the individual’s body either through contact or inhalation. These viruses sometimes result in skin aliments forming. Most skin disorders are easy to treat, and some present more of a challenge to doctors. Early diagnosis of any skin disorder is the key to getting timely treatment.


Variola is commonly referred to as smallpox. It is divided into two types: variola major and variola minor. Variola is the virus that causes smallpox. Smallpox has been under control in the United States since the late 1970’s, and was found to no longer exist in the 1980’s. This was a highly contagious disease. It starts off as a rash, but then escalates into its full form. The lesions that form are often hard and are tough enough to break. It also can leave an individual’s skin severely damaged.

Who can get them?

Anyone can get Variola. Children and pregnant women are more susceptible to the disease. Since it is contracted by person to person contact, anyone can be exposed and catch this illness.

What can cause them?

Variola is caused by a virus. The virus enters the individual’s body through inhaling; these particles then remain in clothing and other items for up to a week.

How does it happen?

Once an individual inhales the virus, it moves from the lungs to the bloodstream and then spreads to the skin, the intestines, lungs, kidneys and often the brain. It starts out as a rash that is flat and red, after that these flat lesions become raised and often look like blisters, then this forms into pustules, about twelve to seventeen days after the individual has contracted the virus. Finally, the pustules start to form into scabs; the scabs eventually fall off the skin as they begin to dry up. It takes three to four weeks for the skin to go through the entire process, and the affected areas on the skin can be permanently scarred. If an individual develops a more rare case of Variola, before the rash appears on their skin, they will develop a dark, purplish flushing of the skin. If an individual develops this form of the skin aliment, they usually die before the onset of the rash.

Where do they appear?

Variola or smallpox often appears on the exposed parts of an individual’s body, these include the face, forearms, wrists, palms, legs, feet and the soles of the feet. All areas of the body tend to be affected at the same time.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms often begin on average to appear ten to fourteen days after the initial exposure to the virus. Variola starts out usually as a skin rash. The rash starts out flat, and then progresses into raised spots. These papules continue to grow and become filled with a clear fluid, this fluid then changes from clear to pus like. An individual will also experience fever, chills, headaches, nausea, vomiting and muscle aches.

How can it be diagnosed?

Doctors can easily diagnosis Variola. First, it can be diagnosed through the symptoms exhibited by the individual infected. Secondly, blood tests can be done to confirm the presents of the virus in the individual’s system.

What treatments are available?

The first treatment that is available for individuals is the vaccine. The vaccine, however, is not routinely given to the public anymore. If you were born after the late 1970’s, you probably were not given the vaccine. Getting the vaccine before exposure is your best line of defense and protects approximately 95% of the population from this aliment. If you develop it, giving the vaccine within three days of exposure will reduce the severity of the symptoms. After four to seven days the vaccine can only offer some protection, but not complete relief from all of the symptoms. The vaccine can offer protection for three-to five years.

Other treatments include given the individual intravenous fluids, antibiotics to fight any secondary infection that may occur and pain medication to help with the fever and pain. In some cases, individuals given the vaccine will also be given vaccinia immune globulin; this is used to treat the complications that can sometimes arise from the vaccine. Keeping the individual calm is the key.

Variola is one of the few skin aliments that can be directly lined to a virus as its main cause. It is also one that has a vaccine, although not administered for years. It still gives us a peace of mind that if you do for some reason develop this skin disorder, that will quick medical attention you can be treated.

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