Man who got smallpox vaccine passes milder infection to sex partner

February 28, 2013 by Steven Reinberg, Healthday Reporter
Man who got smallpox vaccine passes milder infection to sex partner: CDC
Transmission is common if the vaccine wound is not covered, expert says

(HealthDay)—A man recently vaccinated for smallpox under a U.S. Defense Department program passed a milder, related form of the disease on to a man he had sex with, and that man then passed it on to yet another man, federal health officials reported Thursday.

The virus, called the vaccinia virus, is the virus used in the . It is related to and helps the body develop immunity to smallpox. According to the U.S. , the smallpox vaccine does not contain the actual and cannot cause smallpox.

"The smallpox vaccine is a live-, and it's not news that it can infect people, but it cannot convert to smallpox," said Dr. Marc Siegel, a clinical associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

"It's a different virus; it's a kissing cousin of smallpox," he said. "It can be transmitted if you are not careful."

Smallpox has been eradicated across the world, Siegel said, so most people are no longer vaccinated against it. The only reason someone is vaccinated today is because of fear of bioterriosm, he said.

The report was published in the March 1 issue of the CDC's .

In this case, a 24-year-old man in San Diego went to the hospital complaining of a rash, which he thought might have been caused by having with a man who had received the smallpox vaccine.

In addition, the patient had sores on the anus and lips. The patient's condition cleared up without complications, according the report.

A second man, however, also developed similar sores after having sex with the first patient. Sores also developed on the patient's penis and scrotum. These, too, were caused by the vaccinia virus.

This patient was hospitalized and treated with immune globulin intravenous, which the CDC supplied. After treatment, the patient was discharged and his condition also cleared up with no further complications.

The vaccinated man was interviewed and confirmed that the first patient was his only sex partner in the two to 30 days after he had been vaccinated, according to the report.

Transmission of the vaccinia virus is not uncommon, especially if the wound left by the vaccine isn't kept covered as it heals, the CDC said. The open wound can easily transfer the virus to other parts of the body or other people.

This report, however, highlights the potential for the virus to be transmitted through sexual contact and reinforces the need to keep the vaccination wound covered, the agency said.

Explore further: Cowpox virus: Old friend but new foe

More information: For more on smallpox vaccine, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Related Stories

Cowpox virus: Old friend but new foe

September 14, 2011
The observation that milkmaids are frequently infected with cowpox but rarely catch smallpox is generally credited to the English doctor Edward Jenner. Although Jenner might not have been the first person to notice the correlation, ...

Is the end of polio truly in sight?

November 30, 2011
Declaring the eradication of polio will be far more difficult than it was for smallpox, according to a review published in the Journal of General Virology. Further research into the complex virus - host interactions and how ...

Recommended for you

Don't hold your nose and close your mouth when you sneeze, doctors warn

January 15, 2018
Pinching your nose while clamping your mouth shut to contain a forceful sneeze isn't a good idea, warn doctors in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

New antifungal provides hope in fight against superbugs

January 12, 2018
Microscopic yeast have been wreaking havoc in hospitals around the world—creeping into catheters, ventilator tubes, and IV lines—and causing deadly invasive infection. One culprit species, Candida auris, is resistant ...

Dengue takes low and slow approach to replication

January 11, 2018
A new study reveals how dengue virus manages to reproduce itself in an infected person without triggering the body's normal defenses. Duke researchers report that dengue pulls off this hoax by co-opting a specialized structure ...

Different strains of same bacteria trigger widely varying immune responses

January 11, 2018
Genetic differences between different strains of the same pathogenic bacterial species appear to result in widely varying immune system responses, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.

Human protein may aid neuron invasion by virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth disease

January 11, 2018
A human protein known as prohibitin may play a significant role in infection of the nervous system by EV71, one of several viruses that can cause hand, foot, and mouth disease. Issac Too of the National University of Singapore ...

Untangling how Epstein-Barr virus infects cells

January 11, 2018
A team led by scientists at Northwestern Medicine has discovered a new epithelial receptor for Epstein-Barr virus, according to a study published recently in Nature Microbiology.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

freethinking
1 / 5 (1) Mar 01, 2013
Homosexuals should not get vacinated for small pox. Another reason they should not be in the military.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.