A heightened awareness of the potential for bioterrorist attacks in the United States has led to the expansion of the nation's supply of smallpox vaccine and the institution of procedures to distribute this vaccine in the unlikely event of a release of this potentially deadly agent.
The authors conducted a review of the relevant smallpox literature through a MEDLINE search. They also reviewed the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and numerous other Web sites.
The authors considered for inclusion more than 100 articles discussing smallpox, the smallpox vaccine and the role of the dental professional in a bioterrorist attack.
Dentists may detect the initial signs of a smallpox infection, provide information concerning the disease to the public and potentially assist in the administration of smallpox vaccine.
Should an intentional release of smallpox occur, the dental professional may play an important role in its treatment and prevention.