Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning 'spotted', or varus, meaning 'pimple'. The term 'smallpox' was first used in Britain in the 15th century to distinguish variola from the 'great pox' (syphilis). The last naturally occurring case of smallpox (Variola minor) was diagnosed on 26 October 1977. Smallpox localizes in small blood vessels of the skin and in the mouth and throat. In the skin it results in a characteristic maculopapular rash and, later, raised fluid-filled blisters. V. major produces a more serious disease and has an overall mortality rate of 3035%. V. minor causes a milder form of disease (also known as alastrim, cottonpox, milkpox, whitepox, and Cuban itch) which kills about 1% of its victims. Long-term complications of V.
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