Smallpox is a serious and sometimes fatal infectious disease caused by the variola virus.  The pox part of smallpox refers to the raised bumps that appear on the face and body of an infected person. Generally, direct and fairly prolonged face-to-face contact is required to spread smallpox from one person to another, by inhaling droplets released by the cough or sneeze of an infected person. Smallpox can also be spread through direct contact with infected bodily fluids, or with contaminated objects such as bedding or clothing. Rarely, smallpox has been spread by virus carried in the air in enclosed settings such as buildings, buses, and trains. Smallpox may be prevented after exposure if the vaccine is given within four days of exposure to smallpox. The vaccine may lessen the severity of the disease, or possibly prevent illness. In the case of an smallpox attack or outbreak, vaccine would be available to the public through POD sites.

Download the Smallpox Fact Sheet below for more detailed information about smallpox or visit the CDC website.


Smallpox Fact Sheet

In the event of a weaponized smallpox attack or outbreak, the Washoe County Health District will announce detailed instructions on how to obtain preventive medication through a point of dispensing (POD) site. This information will be available through the media and on this website.

Last modified on 07/21/2015