Smallpox is a serious, contagious, and sometimes fatal infectious disease. It is caused by the variola virus. In 1977 the World Health Organization
One of the first mentions of smallpox in Georgia was in 1738. During the colonial era the disease greatly affected the state, wiping out whole tribes of Native Americans. In 1768 the Georgia General Assembly passed a law prohibiting inoculation against smallpox for fear of spreading disease to the people not receiving vaccinations. Centuries later, the smallpox vaccination campaign successfully eliminated the disease in Georgia.
The smallpox virus is transmitted through direct contact with infected body fluid or contaminated objects.
Because of emerging concerns about a potential smallpox attack, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta developed the Smallpox Response Plan and Guidelines to offer direction to state and local health officials in a smallpox emergency. The CDC began providing smallpox vaccine to states in January 2003 as part of U.S. president George W. Bush's effort to vaccinate health workers and emergency responders.