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CDC Makes Advancements in Smallpox Research

Dept. of Health and Human Services

(Photo credit: CDC/James Gathany)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scientists use an electron microscope to examine a cell culture infected with variola virus, the agent that causes smallpox. In 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two CDC-developed tests that quickly and reliably detect smallpox. CDC shared the tests within CDC’s Laboratory Response Network—the labs that would first receive samples if an outbreak begins.

CDC researchers also developed a test that differentiates between antibodies created by a smallpox vaccination and antibodies resulting from a new infection with smallpox or a related virus. In 2017, CDC used the assay to confirm monkeypox cases in Africa.

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