Smallpox Could Return As a Horrifying Biological Weapon

Disease has been eradicated since 1989 but scientists say that's a false sense of security.

Smallpox virus and disease, illustration. (Getty Images)
Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF

One episode of a Discovery series produced by Steve Rivo, Invisible Killers, looks at how smallpox could make a surprising and deadly comeback.

The disease, which was eradicated in 1980, starts with a fever and red bumps that become painful blisters in and outside the body. There is no cure, and eventually, smallpox permanently scars the person’s body and organs. Half of those afflicted with the disease perish.

The World Health Organization led a staggering effort to eradicate the disease 38 years ago. But that does not mean the disease is dead. Labs around the world hold vials of smallpox in the event of an emergency, stockpiles that were supposed to be destroyed by 2002 but weren’t after 9/11, reports The Daily Beast. The CDC still holds reserves, as well as enough vaccinations and treatments in the event of a surprise eruption of smallpox.

However, a debate that has been brewing among policymakers and those who study smallpox biology suggests there is a possibility of a weaponized new strain of the disease.

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