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smallpox small·pox (smôl'pŏks')
An acute, highly infectious, often fatal disease caused by a poxvirus and characterized by high fever and aches with subsequent widespread eruption of papules that blister, produce pus, and form scabs that leave permanent pockmarks. Also called variola.
A highly infectious and often fatal disease caused by the variola virus of the genus Orthopoxvirus and characterized by fever, headache, and severely inflamed skin sores that result in extensive scarring. Once a dreaded killer of children that caused the deaths of millions of Native Americans after the arrival of European settlers in the Americas, smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980 following a worldwide vaccination campaign. Samples of the virus have been preserved in laboratories in the United States and Russia. Also called variola. See Note at Jenner.
Note: A surface with many blemishes is sometimes said to be “pockmarked” because it resembles the skin of a smallpox sufferer.
Note: Smallpox is the first disease of humans to be completely eradicated by a worldwide campaign of inoculation.
Note: Today, the smallpox virus exists only in laboratories.
Note: The use of smallpox is a major concern in the area of bioterrorism.