Richard Moskowitz, MD

Smallpox is definitely contagious, like the chickenpox, but far less so.  It spreads by direct contact with the virus through the typical vesicles or pustules on the skin, and also to some extent via nasal or respiratory secretions from an infected individual.  Its ability to spread by contagion from patient to patient gives it a much wider range as a weapon than anthrax, but also provides a much longer warning period of 7 to 17 days when the virus must incubate in a new host before symptoms develop, ample time for simple preventive measures to be put into effect.

The actual illness begins with a high fever (102-106˚F.), headache, muscle aches, abdominal pain, and vomiting.  This prodrome that may last for 3 or 4 days, after which it tends to subside for a day or so, and the patient may seem to recover.   But then the characteristic eruption appears, first as mouth ulcers, then with raised pocks on the face and forearms that gradually spread over the whole body.  These grow into blisters filled with clear fluid, which become pustular and hemorrhagic as the fever and other systemic symptoms reappear.  Patients remain contagious for about 3 weeks, from before the eruption appears, and until all the lesions have healed and the scabs have fallen off.  Nasal secretions, clothing, and bedclothes may carry the virus for up to 3 months and must therefore be thoroughly disinfected or destryoyed.

The smallpox vaccine, made from the similar disease cowpox, or vaccinia, has not been used since the late 1970’s and is currently unavailable in quantity for use on a mass scale.  Fortunately the homeopathic nosodes Variolinum, made from a smallpox pustule, and Malandrinum, made from “grease” or “farcy,” a similar disease of horses, have both proved to be highly protective against smallpox epidemics in the past, if given early in the incubation period, or at the time of a known case or exposure in the vicinity.  One simple regimen would be to give 3 doses of the 30 or 200 of either remedy within a 24-hour period (waking, bedtime, waking, or vice versa), followed one dose once or twice weekly until the outbreak subsides in the neighborhood.  Hopefully, both remedies will soon be made available over the counter, if the FDA can be persuaded to relax its usual requirement of a doctor’s prescription for such nosodes, i. e., remedies of pathological origin.

Once symptoms appear, the first remedies to be considered include the usual ones for chickenpox, especially Antimonium tart. and Rhus tox.  As with other bioweapons, seeing enough cases to determine the genus epidemicus, the specific remedy for that outbreak, will be of critical importance. 

Homeopathic medicine has shown itself to be convincingly effective in both prevention and treatment of epidemic diseases in the past, and homeopathic physicians need to take the lead in sharing that experience with public and offering our services in the event of such an emergency.

 

January 2002

ADVISORY ON SMALLPOX