Skip to comments.Report: Toddler Contracts Rare Infection
Posted on 03/18/2007 9:32:07 AM PDT by neverdem
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 family's name and home town were not released at their request.
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 the recently vaccinated because the condition allows the virus to enter the skin, they said.
The U.S. Defense Department and federal, state and local health authorities have been in daily contact with the hospital about the case. Health officials say there is no infection risk for the general population because the vaccinia virus can be spread only through close physical contact.
Nonetheless, Dr. Madelyn Kahana, the hospital's chief of pediatric intensive care, said staff members treating the boy and his mother were required to wear face masks and gloves, and that the two had been placed in a special room with negative air pressure, so all air would blow inward.
Kahana said the boy had been treated with a potent antiviral drug, as well as with an anti-vaccinia agent supplied by the CDC and the experimental drug ST-246, which was untried as a therapy in humans.
She said the boy appeared to be improving this week, but will probably lose 20 percent of his outer skin layer.
This guy should have been more careful. It's not as if he wasn't warned when he recieved the inocculation.
This vaccine isn't like others. It leaves an open wound on your arm, it needs to be dressed daily, is pusses. I personally cleaned and dressed a friend of mines injection site a couple of times before he left for Korea, and I cannot see how anbody could be beguiled into thinking that there was no risk in close contact with a child.
The warnings they give to these guys are very specific, and there is an excellent website with all the information. I have cardiac problems, and we had to follow some pretty strict rules after hubby had his vaccination.
It's not like they didn't know. Reactions like this are pretty rare. Knowing that they inject these guys with live virus, common sense would dictate that you either follow the after-care instructions or he should have stayed away from the house.
I just hope he didn't have any contact with other toddlers, like in day care, while he was contagious but without obvious symptoms. I know from experience that chicken pox (for example) is most contagious the day BEFORE the blisters form. I'm not sure about whatever is used in these vaccines.
I'm constantly amazed (and irritated) by the number of people who will knowingly place a sick child in a setting with other children. This especially happens at church and then the parents get mad at YOU or the nursery director for asking them to remove their sick child.
I know, although more accurately the 'others' aren't like THE vaccine as this was the original vaccine. I had it as a child and as a second generation Dermatologist I've been interested in smallpox for over 30 years. There were a lot of concerns when vaccination resumed and this complication was probably the biggest one. Happily the recommended care, including covering the site as directed, has worked pretty well so we've seen less of this (just these two) than expected even though the fraction of the population at risk (those with eczema mostly, most children are NOT at risk) has grown. The association of vaccination with heart problems came as a surprise; it was never reported back when everyone was getting vaccinated. The soldier must feel terrible to have his wife and child in isolation. It could be just bad luck, but I'm sure the infectious disease folks will go over his case with a fine tooth comb trying to see where things went wrong. I also suspect the lessons of his case will be rapidly spread to those giving and receiving future vaccinations.
Also be sure to put the final blame where it belongs, on the USSR and Saddam. We know the former weaponized smallpox after its official eradication and they didn't keep adequate controls to rule out spreading it. We know Saddam experimented with germ warfare and we don't for sure know that didn't include smallpox, either or pre-eradication Iraqi origin or later via USSR, which the terrorists could have gotten. Without these evils we wouldn't have resumed vaccination. The shame is that Russians deserved a better legacy on this. It was they who dreamed up the smallpox eradication program in the 60s. We were ineffectively throwing money at smallpox and would have kept doing so while a couple million died annually indefinitely had not the Russians invented a better strategy for our money. A decade later smallpox would have been gone, absent the paranoia in the Kremlin. The smallpox success spawned the polio eradication plan and it too would be gone now, absent the paranoia in a few mosques.
Might one conclude that this is the father's first vaccination for smallpox? I don't recall any particular reaction when I used to get boosters.
Good question! I'm not sure. I never got a booster myself, but my folks traveled a lot and got a few as a result. I don't recall them complaining about much of a reaction as a result, nor of additional vaccination scars, but then I thought you needed to have some kind of a visual reaction or it wasn't thought to have taken. Given that he's military and has a small child it is likely he was born after routine vaccination ceased and they haven't resumed long enough for anyone to need a booster, so absent a certain answer to your logical thought I presume he's a first vaccination. I also don't know whether repeat vaccinations have a lower risk for such complications. They might, as even vaccinations a long time ago seem to provide some protection against smallpox; they won't prevent you from contracting it but they do lower your risk of dying from it.
My husband was told when he got his last month that it was supposed to be good for 5 years.
This is the military's site for vaccination information:
As a kid I remember kids with a clear plastic cuplike device taped over their smallpox vaccination site. The site looked like a nasty boil.
You could look at an older person's arm, outer thigh for girls, for the telltale scar denoting they had had the smallpox vaccination.
Guess I should have read further into the posts before I posted my comments.
Yours covered it. :)
Thanks. Needless to say, it's been a long time.
I loved her in "Blazing Saddles"...