Emergencies preparedness, response

Preparedness in the event of a smallpox outbreak

Preparedness to deal with any kind of smallpox event – whether natural re-emergence, accidental or deliberate release of the live virus, or created through synthetic biology – requires global and national attention.

  • specific education of health-care personnel in the differential diagnosis of smallpox
  • strengthening laboratory capacities for diagnostics and networks for the detection of variola virus
  • expansion of expertise in the area of laboratory biosafety and biosecurity
  • strengthening of national-level biosafety regulations in all countries

WHO has updated its recommendations concerning the distribution, handling and synthesis of variola virus DNA following the synthetic biology consultations with the inputs of the Advisory Committee for Variola Virus Research to this purpose.

Table: Status of smallpox research and medical countermeasures

Public health measures for a smallpox event should be applied more widely to all other dangerous pathogens. As current events continue to demonstrate, this level of global preparedness for emerging infectious diseases is a much-needed investment for all Member States.

More on preparedness:


This page links all WHO technical and general information on smallpox.

Course: "Smallpox: Disease, Prevention, and Intervention"

This training course was originally developed by the CDC and WHO for use in the training of smallpox response teams. These presentations are being shared to assist planners and first responders in preparing for the possibility of the use of smallpox as a bioterrorist weapon.

Health workers warn people against the dangers of smallpox, Yemen, 1970s