Smallpox Virus – Intentional Release And Potential Spread

smallpox-terror-attack-timeline

The alarming global (potential) spread of smallpox is revealed in a research study published in Scientific Reports which considers human mobility patterns in it’s findings.

Using a large-scale population model, they simulated the global spread of smallpox after an intentional release event, which showed that potential outbreaks can occur in different continents even before the detection of the pathogen release


 
In the report titled, “Human mobility and the worldwide impact of intentional localized highly pathogenic virus release”, it states the following:

In recent years, public health officials have been increasingly alert to the possibility of biological weapon use through an act of bioterrorism.

Among potential pathogenic agents, smallpox poses one of the greatest risks.

While smallpox has been eradicated in 1980, many experts believe that smallpox virus could exist outside the official institutes in the US and Russia.

The smallpox virus is highly pathogenic, and its intentional release into a population that is now largely susceptible can create a tremendous amount of social disruption and fatality.

-Nature Publishing Group, Scientific Reports

 
One of the significant takeaways from the report is encompassed in a statement by one of the study researchers, Alessandro Vespig­nani, who said,

Before you even realize there is an outbreak, it might already be in other places. That changes the game;” “The problem is that most of those studies (previous studies) don’t consider the global dimensions of the event.”

 
In one scenario, five individuals successfully infect themselves with the virus in a major Western metropolis (London). These individuals move freely within the city (avoiding detection) and expose civilians to infection. The five individuals follow a deliberate release strategy and do not attempt international travel in order to limit the possibility of detection and they do not seek medical care. In the model, those agents follow just local mobility and keep on transmitting the disease.

Within 7 days, nearly 10 countries are affected. In two weeks, nearly 15 countries. And this is all apparently before detection.

 
Worldwide location of risk areas (in the event of the intentional release)

Smallpox virus in London

2 Weeks after detection:
smallpox-pandemic-outbreak-map
Image basis: Nature Publishing Group, Scientific Reports

 
So, what can we do with this information?

Be aware that a Smallpox bio-terrorism attack will apparently spread very quickly before it is detected, which will mean that once it is detected, panic and social chaos will greatly lessen your time to prepare.

This means that you should prepare now, ahead of time.

How to prepare for a pandemic?

Know that it will eventually pass. It will be paramount that you avoid contact with others. This means that you will need to survive with the food and supplies that you’ve stocked at home so that you will not have to go out and interact with the public and risk contagion.

What about your “job”? What if I go to work?

That is a good question, and will be difficult for many to answer. Most people live paycheck-to-paycheck and would have a difficult time without it for awhile. Others may lose their job if they choose not to go to work. It will require a personal decision to weigh the risks, depending on the outbreak.

It’s best to adjust your living standard so that you are not entirely dependent upon your next paycheck, and to have reserves (cash, food and supplies) to survive for a time on your own.

The study, and source of the article quotes (PDF)

 
Want to read an eye-opening book on this subject?
The Demon in the Freezer: A True Story

On December 9, 1979, smallpox, the most deadly human virus, ceased to exist in nature. After eradication, it was confined to freezers located in just two places on earth: the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and the Maximum Containment Laboratory in Siberia. But these final samples were not destroyed at that time, and now secret stockpiles of smallpox surely exist. For example, since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the subsequent end of its biological weapons program, a sizeable amount of the former Soviet Union’s smallpox stockpile remains unaccounted for, leading to fears that the virus has fallen into the hands of nations or terrorist groups willing to use it as a weapon. Scarier yet, some may even be trying to develop a strain that is resistant to vaccines. This disturbing reality is the focus of this fascinating, terrifying, and important book.

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12 Comments

  1. It raises a question or two. Is the smallpox vaccination a defense against a “weaponized” version of small pox? Is a 60 year old small pox vaccination still effective? I think the answer to number two is “yes” but I suspect most people would probably lean towards thinking it isn’t. Would a small pox outbreak leave the U.S. with just 10 or 20 million old folks surviving? Do you have a small pox vaccination scar on your upper left shoulder?

    1. The smallpox vaccination is “supposed” to give lifetime immunity. But I don’t think that theory has ever been tested. I DO have the scar on my shoulder showing that I was vaccinated as a child, and hope that it is still effective.

    2. Yes, I do have the “scar” except that mine is not a scar, it is a depression. There was some problem with the vaccine I was given, or with the needle. It left a large depression or dent in my arm. I assume I am still protected, even though the vaccine was given about 65 years ago.

      Maybe I can do the work of some of the people who are afraid to leave their houses. I am retired, but still pretty healthy.

      1. If I may chime in here?…

        Multiple people have inferred that the vaccinations they received during childhood might still be efective some (several) decades later. Unfortunately that assumption is erroneous.

        To obtain a reason(ing) for why that is the case one must needs examine the immune system rather closely, ie; how it actually ‘rememebers’ contact with a previous pathogen. Specifically, THAT data is transcibed onto a fraction of the immune system called ‘B-cells’. Though it is the case that B-cells are VERY long lived indeed yet thier lifespans – in fact- are not ‘Life-long’. Additionally, it is the case that NO B-cell can TRANSCRIBE it’s contained ‘memory’ to any other such cell in mammals….neither older versions, NOR younger versions. Strangely THIS is why persons undergoing ‘chemotherapy’ often LOSE a wide variety of allergic responses after treatment; the corrseponding population of B-cells have been sufficiently reduced such that (on average) the body does NOT ‘remember’ those things as reqiring an immune response.

        Better figure on no (now living) person as having ANY (conferred bia vaccination) immunity remnant to ANY varienty of smallpox. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news Y’All…

  2. Just wondering what the incubation period is for small pox? Also how long before one in considered contagious once exposed.

  3. I also have this scar, and presumably the resistance that accompanies it. In addition, I was vaccinated against every imaginable disease when I went to boot camp in 1978. therefore, I think I am probably good as it goes for old school epidemics. What I worry about is modified or “weaponized” versions of old school viral/bacterial challenges.

  4. This is a CDC fact sheet on smallpox. Supposedly you have to be within 6′ of someone to get it person to person, or come in contact with infected objects.
    http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/smallpox/overview/disease-facts.asp

    Fortunately I am retired and don’t have to worry about going out to go work.
    If this disease is weaponized though, they would make sure it could spread via air as they have with others.

  5. I have read, and been told by military personal, that when the military personal (in both U.S. and Canada) receive those big whacks of vaccines prior to deployments, these include smallpox vaccines.

    of no matter to me, but curious, anyone know if this is correct?

    1. you are correct. I was vaccinated as a baby, and then again by the Navy in 1984. Again by the Army prior to a deployment to Iraq in 2005.

  6. The head of the CDC had to testify to congress last week about having found smallpox and other biological agents in a storage freezer that they didn’t even know was there.

  7. An oral smalpox vaccine has just been “fastracked” by the FDA. Why? Most doctors will have never actually seen a smallpox case.

    1. The fear is a weaponized smallpox. It is much worse then the natural smallpox and it is supposed to be fairly easy to create. I suspect that the government expects terrorists to get a nuke or maybe a couple nukes and to get other WMDs as well. Probably there is believable intelligence on this. Some highly placed politicians have hinted this and some of the agencies who might be expected to deal with it are taking steps that one would expect them to take to deal with a major terrorist attack. There is writing on the walls but it’s not clear what it all says.

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