Two herdsmen in the country of Georgia have been infected with a brand-new virus, scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. The newly identified virus is a second cousin to smallpox. And, like smallpox, it causes painful blisters on the hands and arms. Other symptoms include a fever, swollen lymph nodes and overall weakness, CDC scientists at a meeting in Atlanta.
Since then, widespread vaccinations for smallpox have stopped. And this immunization gap seems to be opening the door for other viruses in the family — known as — to resurface, Vora says.
"When you vaccinate a person with one of these viruses, it protects [against] other viruses in the family," Vora says. "Since smallpox vaccinations stopped, there's some indication that other ... orthopoxviruses have started to increase in their incidence because there's less immunity." Four other viruses in that family infect people: cowpox, monkeypox, vaccinia and smallpox. All but smallpox generally infect animals — cows, cats or monkeys — then jump to people opportunistically.
New Virus Related To Smallpox Is Found In Republic Of Georgia
Image credits: Darin Caroll/CDC