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Scientists discover how smallpox may derail human immune system
Date:5/11/2009

to smallpox pathogenesis. But another side of this is that inflammation can sometimes be harmful or deadly to people, and we may learn a way to inhibit more dangerous inflammation from this virus."

Smallpox is blamed for an estimated 300 million deaths in the 20th century alone, and outbreaks have occurred almost continuously for thousands of years. The disease was eradicated by a worldwide vaccination campaign, and the last case of smallpox in the United States was in 1949, according to the CDC. The last naturally occurring case in the world was in Somalia in 1977.

With the exception of stores of the virus held in high-containment facilities in the United States and Russia, smallpox no longer exists on the planet. Since it was no longer necessary for prevention, and because the vaccines themselves were risky, routine vaccination against smallpox was stopped. However, public health concerns regarding the possible re-emergence of the virus through bioterrorism have led to renewed interest in the development of treatments for the disease and safer vaccines.


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Contact: John Pastor
jdpastor@ufl.edu
352-273-5815
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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