Smallpox is a contagious and sometimes fatal disease caused by the variola virus. Even a single confirmed case is considered an emergency. Smallpox can be transmitted through the air, face-to-face contact, or contact with bodily fluids or objects such as bedding or clothing with the virus on it. One of the best forms of prevention is vaccination. Although smallpox was eradicated years ago, the virus can still be spread through bioterrorism.
Steps you can take
1. Get vaccinated
Get the smallpox vaccination if you have not already had it.
2. Know where to go for up-to-date information
Stay informed of outbreaks that could affect your community. Keep these telephone numbers and web addresses handy for quick access to up-to-date information:
- Dakota County Public Health Department: 651-554-6100
- Minnesota Department of Health: 651-201-5000, www.health.state.mn.us
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)
3. Stay informed
If a smallpox outbreak occurs, listen for official news and instructions that will be broadcast over radio and television.
Dakota County’s role in smallpox outbreaks
Dakota County provides information and resources to help you and your family prepare for smallpox outbreaks. The County also works with federal, state, and local officials to plan and coordinate responses to a smallpox outbreak to minimize its affect by educating emergency personnel and healthcare providers.
Dakota County partners with local communities to provide the Dakota Communications Center which distributes information through the Emergency Alert Program notification system and provides 911 assistance.
The County also assists the Minnesota Department of Health in monitoring the health of residents and ensuring that residents receive up-to-date information and vaccination as directed by health officials.