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Woman Infected With Virus After Sexual Contact With Vaccinated Boyfriend

A woman in her 20s from Washington State was infected with the vaccinia virus used in smallpox vaccines earlier this year after sexual contact with her boyfriend, a member of the military who had been vaccinated five days earlier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

The man had removed a bandage covering his vaccination site earlier that day, the report said.

It is one of five known cases in the past 12 months of women from four states who got vaccinia through sexual contact with a member of the military, the July 2 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said.

The Washington woman sought medical treatment in late February for a painful, ring-shaped vaginal swelling, returning several days later complaining of increased pain, new sores and a swollen lymph node. She expressed concern about the smallpox vaccination, but health care providers initially tested her only for gonorrhea, chlamydia and herpes virus; an infectious disease specialist who examined her later tested her for vaccinia, and the lab results were positive.

Most healthy people do not generally face serious risks from the vaccinia virus but it poses dangers to anyone who has a compromised immune system, has eczema or is pregnant, said Andrea McCollum, a C.D.C. epidemiologist and M.M.W.R. author.

Editors note: Vaccines cause a hallmark of immunosuppresive symptoms.


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