Smallpox is an infectious disease caused by viruses, which is highly contagious and life-threatening. The trigger is the variola virus. Thanks to worldwide vaccination campaigns, the world has been officially considered smallpox-free since 1980.
Typical symptoms include fever and blistering on the skin surface. The mortality rate is up to 30 percent. Many of the survivors are scarred for life. The characteristic skin changes leave scars, and the disease can also lead to hearing loss or blindness. In addition to smallpox in humans, a number of animals also suffer from diseases caused by related viruses, although the course of the disease is less severe. Transmission of these pox diseases from animals to humans cannot be ruled out.