Smallpox remains a topic of great interest among the general public and the media, and is even part of the "ER" season finale on May 16. All this coverage is also increasing questions among the public, who want to know what would happen if an outbreak occurred.
Current guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend "ring vaccination" if smallpox occurs. This means that once a case of smallpox is identified, a ring of people who have been in contact with the infected person would be vaccinated and monitored. This strategy was used successfully to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s. However, given that people travel much more often than in the past - and so it may be hard to find and vaccinate every person who has had contact with someone who has been infected -- many experts question whether this is the best strategy. One suggestion is that certain people, such as health care workers, ought to be immunized now to protect them against the disease; another is that everyone in the U.S. should receive the vaccine. A joint committee of The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the National Vaccine Advisory Committee have met to examine this issue and the range of possible options, and is expected to make a formal recommendation in June.
In the meantime, the list of links below provides more in-depth information about smallpox, the vaccine, and what to do in case of a bioterrorism attack.
Other NNii resources:
Smallpox (information about the disease and the vaccine)
Anthrax and Smallpox: Being Prepared for Bioterrorism
Infectious Diseases Society of America (www.idsociety.org):
Bioterrorism Information and Resources
American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org):
Children, Bioterrorism and Disasters
American Academy of Family Physicians (www.aafp.org):
Bioterrorism Preparedness (patient resources)
American Nurses Association:
Bioterrorism and Disaster Response
CDC National Immunization Program (www.cdc.gov/nip/):
Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response
Interim Smallpox Plan and Guidelines
National Immunization Program: Smallpox
Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy (CIDRAP) (http://www1.umn.edu/cidrap/index.html):
Johns Hopkins University Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies (www.hopkins-biodefense.org):
Smallpox Fact Sheet (outlining consensus recommendations)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (www.niaid.nih.gov):
Fact Sheet: Study Seeks to Determine Effectiveness of Diluted Smallpox Vaccine
Biodefense: General Information