Treatments for Smallpox
The goal of smallpox treatments is to provide relief of symptoms as the body fights the virus. Since there are currently no proven methods that can kill the virus, supportive care is the best solution in alleviating symptoms. Supportive care can include intravenous fluids, medications to control fever or pain, and antibiotics to prevent secondary infection.
There are currently no proven remedies that can kill the smallpox virus. Therefore, treatments for smallpox focus on providing relief of symptoms as the body fights the virus. This is called supportive care.
Using supportive care to treat smallpox can include:
- Intravenous (IV) fluids
- Medications to control fever or pain
- Antibiotics to prevent secondary infections from bacteria
- Good nursing care.
Also, if an infected person gets the smallpox vaccine within four days after exposure to the virus, it may lessen the severity of the disease or even prevent it.
The majority of people with smallpox recover, but death may occur in up to 30 percent of cases. Those who do recover from the disease are often left with disfiguring scars over large areas of their body, especially their face. Some are left blind.
Research to evaluate new antiviral agents for the treatment of smallpox is ongoing. Early results from laboratory studies suggest that the drug cidofovir (Vistide®) may fight the virus. Smallpox research scientists are doing studies with animals to better understand the drug's ability to treat this disease.
In addition, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use the antiviral drug cidofovir as an experimental smallpox treatment in the event of a bioterrorist-initiated reemergence of the disease.