Smallpox Plan

This page provides domestic health emergency response plan for a deliberate release of smallpox.

Page last updated: June 2020

Smallpox Plan

Domestic Health Emergency Response Plan for a Deliberate Release of Smallpox

Smallpox has been eradicated as a naturally occurring infectious illness. Its cause, the variola virus, has been effectively contained. The re-introduction of this viral infection would constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHRs). Any delays in reporting or responding to smallpox cases may severely impact disease containment.

A single confirmed or probable case of smallpox will initiate activation of the Smallpox Plan. Other criteria for activation of the Smallpox Plan include:

  • reports of suspected smallpox cases once an outbreak has been confirmed elsewhere; and
  • reports of human exposures to an environmental source containing smallpox virus.

The Smallpox Plan sets out the agreed mechanisms through which coordination of the national health response to a deliberate release of smallpox will occur.

The Smallpox Plan is an annex of the Health Chemical Biological Radiological or Nuclear Incidents of National Significance Plan (Health CBRN Plan). The Health CBRN Plan sets out the agreed mechanisms through which coordination of the overarching national health response to a CBRN Incident of National Significance (CBRNINS) will occur, including links with other sectors, and should be read in conjunction with the Smallpox Plan.

This plan aims to promote more effective planning, better preparedness, and a more rapid, integrated and consistent health response to a deliberate release of smallpox.