Veterinary College Virologist To Discuss Small Pox

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 15, 2003 – The words "small pox" have become almost synonymous with the word "bio-terrorism" in our post 9/11 world. Once thought eradicated, it is now viewed as the number one threat among a host of bio-terror agents that might be deployed against America and an immunization program is underway.

Dr. Thomas Toth, a virologist on faculty in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) at Virginia Tech, is one of many scientists and public health officials who believe the public should understand more about the disease and the new vaccination program.

On Monday, April 21, Toth will present a one-hour lecture entitled "Small Pox: Agent, Disease, Bio-threat," in the Donaldson Brown Hotel & Conference Center auditorium on the campus of Virginia Tech from 3 - 4 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

"Small pox has again emerged as an enormous public health issue, even though there are no cases," said Toth, who works in the college's Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases. "People need to understand more about this disease. The more they know, the less they are prone to panic. For example, we don't need parents seeing chicken pox on their children and panicking."

Toth's presentation will include basic information about the virus and the disease it causes, the historic eradication effort that successfully eliminated it in the mid-20th century, the current immunization program underway in our nation, as well as some of the counter-measures which are being taken to protect the nation from a small pox virus-based bio-terrorist attack.

He will also share images that depict the disease and help differentiate it from others that cause lesions that are similar in appearance.

Toth, a veterinary virologist who joined the VMRCVM 21 years ago, earned a Ph.D in virology and immunology from the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University and the DVM from the University of Veterinary Sciences in Budapest, Hungary in 1960. He is a past chairman of the Board of the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists.