CHICAGO – A 2-year-old Indiana boy and his mother contracted a rare and life-threatening infection from his soldier father’s smallpox vaccination, according to a published report.
The boy and his mother were being treated in a specially-ventilated room at the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital, the Chicago Tribune reported Saturday.
The boy developed a virulent rash over 80 percent of his body earlier this month after coming in contact with his father, who had recently been vaccinated for smallpox before he was to be deployed overseas by the Army, the paper said.
Physicians stressed that the boy was not suffering from smallpox, but from the related vaccinia virus which is used to convey immunity to the much deadlier disease. They said the infection was a rare condition called eczema vaccinatum, which has not been reported since at least 1990, when the military ended a previous program of smallpox vaccination. Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980.
The military began smallpox vaccinations again in 2002 because of bioterrorism fears.
Doctors said the child suffered from eczema, which is a known risk factor for vaccinia infection. People with eczema are warned not to have close physical contact with those who were recently vaccinated because the condition allows the virus to enter the skin, they said.
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