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CHICAGO _ As the U.S. government rushes to buy enough smallpox vaccine for every American, experts disagree about how to meet a potential bioterrorist threat posed by a deadly disease that officially has been eradicated worldwide since 1979.
In the latest edition of the journal Nature released this week, British scientists published a computer model that estimates that once an outbreak occurs, smallpox could spread through a population faster than previously thought.
The British study's estimated rate of secondary infections is at least twice the predicted rate in another computer model released recently by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The debate over how fast the disease would spread highlights a growing list of uncertainties about smallpox that scientists are scrambling to understand.
The dangers of smallpox to a modern industrialized nation are basically untested. The virus no longer exists in …