Human diseases caused by orthopoxvirus infection, such as smallpox, can be severe and highly significant in terms of mortality and morbidity. Smallpox has figured prominently in shaping critical events throughout human history, and attempts to understand it and to control its impact and spread in communities have for centuries been undertaken by scientists, physicians, and military leaders. More recently, the distinctive biological characteristics of orthopoxviruses, and concerns about bioterrorism, have stimulated renewed interest within the scientific community, making this group of viruses - which includes Monkeypox virus, Cowpox virus, and Vaccinia virus - once again important both as the objects of study and as tools for use in biomedical research. The development of novel vaccines and therapeutics, as well as new laboratory tests to rapidly diagnose poxvirus infections, are areas of current active research with direct implications for public health practice.
Reynolds, M. G., & Damon, I. K. (2016). Smallpox. In International Encyclopedia of Public Health (pp. 524–533). Elsevier Inc. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-803678-5.00411-2