Carrying on this debate, the scientific community remains divided over whether the smallpox samples should be destroyed. The respected journal Nature editorialized against it earlier this year, arguing that scientists need the ability to do further research, and perhaps develop new vaccines and treatments in an era of possible biological attack. However, one of the most prominent figures in wiping out the deadly, disfiguring disease is in favor of destroying all remnants of it.
Smallpox is one of the most lethal diseases in history. For centuries, it killed about one-third of the people it infected, including Queen Mary II of England, and left most survivors with deep scars on their faces from the hideous pus-filled lesions. The last known case was in Britain in 1978 when a university photographer who worked above a lab handling smallpox died after being accidentally exposed to it from the building's air duct system.
Smallpox vaccines are made from vaccinia, a milder related virus.
There are two forms of smallpox:
Variola major is a serious illness that can be life threatening in people who have not been vaccinated
Variola minor is a milder infection that rarely causes death
It usually takes 12 - 14 days after a person has been infected for symptoms to appear.