This 1975 image depicted World Health Organization (WHO) epidemiologist Dr. Hari Mehta, collecting the lesion scabs from the legs of a suspected smallpox sufferer, which will be sent to a laboratory for a diagnostic confirmation.Today, laboratory criteria for confirmation* include a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) identification of variola DNA in a clinical specimen, OR the isolation of smallpox (variola) virus from a clinical specimen, i.e., WHO Smallpox Reference laboratory or laboratory with appropriate reference capabilities, with variola PCR confirmation.*Laboratory diagnostic testing for variola virus should be conducted in a CDC Laboratory Response Network (LRN) laboratory utilizing LRN-approved PCR tests and protocols for variola virus. Initial confirmation of a smallpox outbreak requires additional testing at CDC.
CDC/ World Health Organization; Stanley O. Foster M.D., M.P.H.
December 2, 2012
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