Questions & Answers
Smallpox - Threat
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Smallpox Weapons - The Threat

  1. How does the threat of a smallpox attack on US forces compare with that of an anthrax attack?
    They are both known threats. Many factors go into such determinations, including intelligence information, known capabilities and other variables. We cannot quantify the threat of either one being used as a bioweapon, but we do know the consequences of their use could be great. Vaccination is a prudent, logical step to ensure preparedness for the U.S.

  2. Will the people receiving anthrax vaccinations be the same ones receiving the smallpox vaccinations?
    Not necessarily. A May 2014 exception to policy states smallpox vaccination is no longer mandatory for the CENTCOM AOR although anthrax vaccination is still a CENTCOM requirement. Both vaccinations are still mandatory for uniformed personnel deploying or assigned to the Korean Peninsula for 15 or more consecutive days, as well as other designated units and emergency-essential personnel.

  3. How serious is the threat that a terrorist would attack us by releasing the smallpox virus?
    Terrorists or governments hostile to the United States may have, or could obtain, some of the variola virus that causes smallpox disease. If so, these adversaries could use it as a biological weapon. People exposed to variola virus, or those at risk of being exposed, can be protected by vaccinia (smallpox) vaccine. The United States is taking precautions to deal with this possibility.

  4. How dangerous is the smallpox threat?
    Smallpox is one of the bio-agents determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to pose the greatest potential threat of adverse impact on public health and medical systems. Other bio-agents in this category are anthrax, plague, botulism, tularemia, and viral hemorrhagic fevers.

  5. Did the former regime in Iraq have smallpox?
    It is possible, but not confirmed, that elements of the former regime in Iraq possessed the virus that causes smallpox.

  6. What other countries have smallpox?
    A number of other countries may possess the virus that causes smallpox, but only a few are authorized. After eradication, the only places authorized to possess the variola virus are high-containment civilian government laboratories in the Russian Federation and the U.S. The virus was allowed to be retained for scientific purposes. Anyone else possessing the virus is breaching an international agreement with the World Health Organization, an official instrument of the United Nations.

  7. Does Al-Qaida have smallpox?
    It is unknown, but unlikely, that Al-Qaida at this time possesses the virus that causes smallpox.

  8. Do you believe that North Korea may use a smallpox weapon?
    If North Korea possesses the variola virus, it may be used under any number of circumstances. By preparing ourselves to respond to any smallpox attack, through pre-outbreak and post-outbreak vaccination plans, we help in deterring such attacks.