New virus causing smallpox found in Georgia

Photo: New virus causing smallpox found in Georgia
 / Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia, May 5

By Nana Kirtzkhalia - Trend:

Georgia's National Center for Disease Control and Public Health issued a statement on Monday, May 5, regarding the new virus found in the country.

The new virus is an agent causing smallpox, according to the statement.

The center said that currently, the nature of the new virus, its spreading and possible risks for human life are being studied jointly with U.S. scientists.

Previously, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement saying a new virus causing smallpox has been found in Georgia. The same report said that at least three people were infected.

Georgian scientists invited their colleagues from the U.S. to help them carry out a more precise diagnostics on the infected people.

Two shepherds were the first to catch the new virus, the statement said. Reportedly they were in contact with sick animals.

One of the infected was initially thought to have anthrax, but the laboratory checks did not confirm this.

Smallpox, which killed 300-500 million people throughout the 20th century, is caused by either Variola major or Variola minor viruses.

In 1967, by the World Health Organization's estimates, 15 million people had the disease, with two million of them dying from it the same year.

Following the vaccination campaigns in the 19th and 20th centuries, the WHO certified the eradication of smallpox in 1979. Though believed to have been eradicated, the researches conducted by U.S. scientists in Georgia revealed the virus is an agent causing smallpox.

The research of the U.S. experts showed the new smallpox virus had not been previously known to scientists, and therefore it does not have a name.

The first case involving infection with new smallpox virus took place in Georgia in the summer of 2013, according to the statement.

Translated by E.A.

Edited by S.I.

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