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Symptoms of smallpox infection usually appear within 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus. The first symptoms of smallpox may be difficult to distinguish from other flu-like illnesses and include:

  • High fever
  • Fatigue
  • Malaise
  • Headache
  • Backache
  • Rash

A characteristic rash, most prominent on the face, arms, and legs, follows 2 to 3 days after the first symptoms. The rash starts with flat red lesions (sores) that develop at the same rate. After a few days, the lesions become filled with pus. They begin to crust early in the second week. Scabs develop and then separate and fall off after about 3 weeks.

Last Updated August 20, 2008