Progressive Vaccinia

Bray, Mike; Wright, Mary E.
March 2003
Clinical Infectious Diseases;3/15/2003, Vol. 36 Issue 6, p766
Academic Journal
The resumption of smallpox vaccination for health care workers and other first responders has raised concern about the occurrence of complications in people with immunodeficiency disorders, including those infected with human immunodeficiency virus. During the era of universal vaccination, roughly 1 person per million vaccinees in the general population developed progressive vaccinia, which is characterized by the relentless outward spread of infection from the vaccination site and eventual dissemination to other areas on the body. Review of 56 cases reported in the English-language medical literature from 1893 through 1997 indicates that the condition occurred only in persons with severe cell-mediated immunodeficiency. Progressive vaccinia was found to be lethal in infants who completely lacked cellular immune function, but infection resolved in many adults with acquired immunodeficiency. Almost all cases were treated with vaccinia immune globulin, but its efficacy has never been tested in a placebo-controlled trial. Further research is needed to develop effective forms of therapy.


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