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U.S. woman gets genital rash from smallpox vaccinee


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A soldier newly vaccinated against smallpox infected a woman with the virus used to make the shot, causing a painful genital infection, U.S. health experts said on Thursday.

The case is one of several recent reports of sexual contact passing the usually harmless virus used to make smallpox vaccines, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

It advised doctors to be on the lookout for the infection, which may look like a sexually transmitted disease.

The woman sought help at a public health clinic in Alaska after she developed severe itching, burning and tears in her vagina, the CDC said in its weekly report on death and disease.

Tests showed she was infected with vaccinia, the virus related to smallpox that is used to make the vaccine.

"After vaccinia was identified, investigators interviewed the woman more closely and learned that her new sex partner was a male U.S. military service member stationed at a local military base," the report read.

He had been vaccinated just three days before. The woman's infection cleared up months before investigators were able to confirm the cause.

Smallpox was eradicated in 1979, but military personnel and some health and emergency workers are vaccinated against the virus because of fears it could be used as a biological weapon.

The vaccine is crude and uses a live version of vaccinia. It can sometimes infect other people from the place where it is scratched into the arm.

Doctors are currently treating a toddler in Chicago who got one such infection, called eczema vaccinatum, from his soldier father.

The child became seriously ill, and in rare cases, people have been known to die from reactions to the vaccine.