Chickenpox vs. Smallpox

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Difference between Chickenpox and Smallpox

An infectious disease is an illness caused by pathogenic microbes, viruses, bacteria, fungi or prions. They are transmissible from one person to another through physical contact, by exchange of objects or by airborne inhalation. After a pathogen agent enters the body and begins to multiply, the immune system reacts to it. The case with most infectious diseases is that it takes a certain period of time for the body to recover.

These are a few of the infectious diseases known to have caused many deaths worldwide: HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, tetanus, meningitis, syphilis, hepatitis B. Chickenpox and smallpox are considered to be two of the milder infectious diseases.



Chickenpox is a contagious disease caused by the Varicellazoster virus. Once an individual gains immunity to the disease, he will no longer be subject to the disease.

Smallpox is an infectious disease caused by two viruses: Variola major and Variola minor. According to the World Health Organization, smallpox has been eradicated through vaccination campaigns.


The symptoms for chickenpox are muscle pain, fever, nausea, headaches and a general feeling of malaise. Afterward, a rash covers the body with blisters filled with liquid. A person can infect others between one to five days prior to the appearance of a rash. The blisters are no longer contagious after 6 days when each has formed a scab.

It takes 12 days for smallpox symptoms to appear. The infected person suffers from high fever, muscle pain, headaches, nausea and vomiting. The rash forms after 48 hours and spreads from the forehead to the extremities. From this point, there are for types of the disease: ordinary, modified, malignant and hemorrhagic. The last two lead to death.


A person infected with chickenpox needs to be isolated from other people. Only individuals who have had the diseases can stay near the infected person. There are methods to alleviate the symptoms, but no actual cure. The disease no longer affects the organism after a few weeks and the person gains immunity. It is important for the individual to pay attention to personal hygiene to prevent bacteria growth. A lotion with baking soda can alleviate the itching. The chickenpox vaccine is effective only when people have been exposed to the virus, but they haven’t show symptoms yet.

If a smallpox vaccine is administered in the first three days of exposure, it can prevent or alleviate the symptoms. An antiviral treatment may be used with caution, as it causes renal toxicity.

Similarities and Differences

  • Chickenpox and smallpox are infectious viral diseases.
  • Symptoms include headaches, nausea, a general feeling of malaise, muscle pain and fever.
  • Symptoms of chickenpox can be alleviated through baking soda lotions and good personal hygiene.
  • Symptoms of smallpox can be alleviated through antiviral medication. The vaccines have to be administered within three days of exposure to virus.


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