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Development and Experience with an Algorithm to Evaluate Suspected Smallpox Cases in the United States, 2002-2004

J. F. Seward, K. Galil, I. Damon, S. A. Norton, L. Rotz, S. Schmid, R. Harpaz, J. Cono, M. Marin, S. Hutchins, S. S. Chaves and M. M. McCauley
Clinical Infectious Diseases
Vol. 39, No. 10 (Nov. 15, 2004), pp. 1477-1483
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4462980
Page Count: 7
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Development and Experience with an Algorithm to Evaluate Suspected Smallpox Cases in the United States, 2002-2004
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Abstract

Concerns that smallpox, an eradicated disease, might reappear because of a bioterror attack and limited experience with smallpox diagnosis in the United States prompted us to design a clinical algorithm. We used clinical features of classic smallpox to classify persons presenting with suspected smallpox rashes into 3 categories: those with high, those with moderate, and those with low risk of having smallpox. The classification guides subsequent diagnostic strategies, limiting smallpox laboratory testing to high-risk persons to minimize the number of false-positive test results. From January 2002 through June 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) received 43 consultations regarding suspected smallpox cases. No patient was at high risk for having smallpox. One patient was tested for the presence of variola virus. Varicella was the diagnosis for 23 cases (53%). The algorithm worked well to guide clinical and public health responses to suspected smallpox cases. The poster is available from CDC, and an interactive version and laboratory protocol are available at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/smallpox/diagnosis/riskalgorithm/index.asp. We recommend use of the algorithm in the United States and elsewhere.

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