We report work done in 1971 to determine the quantitative virulence for suckling mice of 26 variola virus isolates from different countries and from cases of differing severity. Strains of recognized variola major and variola minor viruses differed up to 100-fold (expressed as the harmonic mean dose of inoculum which killed mice 2-4 d old, inoculated intracranially, in 5 d). Isolates from Indonesia and from East and West Africa gave intermediate values. Unlike tests on chick embryos, this test distinguished between African and Indonesian isolates.
Huq, F., & Dumbell, K. R. (2003). Virulence of variola viruses for suckling mice. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 97(1), 97–99. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0035-9203(03)90036-8