How was the small pox epidemic eradicated and what is the treatment for viruses (generally)?

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  • 4 years ago
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    Small pox was eradicated by means of a coordinated, worldwide vaccination programme. Viruses are generally not treated - they are vaccinated against. Sometimes the symptoms of viral infections are treated.

    For example: the common cold is caused by a virus and the viral infection itself is not treated (except in exceptional circumstances where the person is immuno-compromised). The symptoms of colds are treated using mild pain relief, decongestants - the body's immune system takes care of the viral infection.

    Childhood illnesses like chicken pox are not treated, except symptomatically - the body eliminates the virus and the person has usually life-long immunity.

    Some viral infections are treated: herpes for example. Cold sores are caused by herpes and healing time can be greatly reduced using acyclovir. Treatment isn't necessary, but is helpful and reduces the likelihood of future outbreaks in the individual

    HIV is a virus that is now actively treated in developed countries. There are very few cases of the body naturally eliminating the virus, so it essentially remains in the affected individual. Various drug therapies prevent the virus from replicating and keep the viral load to a minimum that often causes no illness and may not be life-limiting.

    Developing virus therapies is costly, and drug companies have to know that they will recoup their development cost and make profit. It is unlikely there will ever be a therapy for the common cold (for example) since it would be a costly treatment, and the benefits would be minimal (someone might have the sniffles for a few days instead of a week or two).

    So in summary, viruses are usually not treated, but are often vaccinated against where they have the potential to cause serious illness.

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