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Soldier suffers reaction to smallpox shot

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Washington -- One soldier inoculated against smallpox has suffered a potentially serious skin reaction to the vaccine, and officials are investigating whether a second ill soldier also is reacting to the shot, the Pentagon said Friday.

It was the first report of any serious reaction to Americans receiving the vaccinations, which began in December for the military and are just now getting under way for civilians. The first case, a 30-year-old Army soldier at a U.S. base, was a skin reaction called generalized vaccinia, and officials were confident it was linked to the man's vaccination 10 days earlier.

In the second case, a 26-year-old Army soldier was admitted to an overseas military hospital for encephalitis, a brain disease that can cause paralysis or permanent neurological damage. Diagnostic studies could not confirm that his reaction was due to his smallpox vaccination. But he had received the vaccination eight days earlier.

Both men now are in good condition, the Pentagon said.