Questions & Answers
Smallpox - Smallpox in the Environment
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Testing the Environment

  1. Do tests exist to show if smallpox is in the environment, like tests for anthrax spores?
    There are various methods that can be utilized for detecting bioterrorist agents, including smallpox. These include surface and air sample gathering techniques, followed by identification methods such as culture growth or polymerase chain reaction (PCR). However, smallpox virus is relatively fragile, would not persist for long in the environment, and therefore sampling and analysis would not be considered necessary. In the event of a bioterrorist attack involving smallpox, local, state, and federal responders would determine the need for sampling based on the specific circumstances associated with the release.