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A reported outbreak of smallpox in the Swabi district of Pakistan has turned out to be nothing more than chickenpox, reports the World Health Organization.

The “epidemic” of deadly smallpox was first publicized in the Pakistan Dawn June 9. WorldNetDaily reported on the supposed outbreak after contacting officials from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control.

WHO officials later reported that the organization had personnel “on the ground” in Pakistan investigating the claim. A subsequent e-mail to WND confirmed the suspicion that the outbreak was in fact chickenpox.

“There has not been a case of smallpox anywhere in the world since the late 1970s, and all rumors since then have been proved to be false,” Iain Simpson, a spokesman for WHO, told WorldNetDaily before the organization’s probe was completed.

“There have been several recent rumors from Central Asia and the Middle East. In all cases, it has turned out to be the result of poor translation. In each recent case, the disease was actually chickenpox.”

In WHO’s latest correspondence, Communications Officer Dick Thompson wrote: “Investigators on the ground have confirmed this is an outbreak of chickenpox.”

In recent months, the threat of a smallpox bioterror attack has raised new questions about who might have access to the virus and how it could be used as a deadly weapon against large population bases. The Centers for Disease Control last week wrapped up a series of public forums to discuss how the U.S. should use the smallpox vaccine “before and after a potential smallpox outbreak or bioterroist attack.”

Previous stories:

WHO probing smallpox claim

Smallpox outbreak in Pakistan?

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