- A baby showed signs of smallpox vaccine virus exposure
after being breastfed by the wife of a US soldier given the jab.
- The unusual case - which happened in May 2003 - was confirmed
in a report by the US Centers for Disease Control.
- The unnamed soldier had a "major reaction"
to the vaccine - but continued to sleep with his wife, who carried on breastfeeding
- The US launched a vaccination programme despite fears
over side effects.
- The smallpox vaccine contains a live virus, which means
there is the potential for it to spread to others.
- It is not the smallpox virus itself, but another related
virus called vaccinia, which causes a much milder version of the illness.
- Although it is not contagious in the same way as influenza
or a cold, normally the sore that forms at the vaccination site is covered
and those given the vaccine warned about the potential for the virus to
spread by contact with it.
- Tongue sores
- The solider's wife developed sores near her nipples approximately
a week after her husband was vaccinated.
- Two weeks later, sores appeared on the infant's face
and tongue. No information about its recovery was released by the CDC.
- The CDC report urged breast-feeding mothers living with
people vaccinated against smallpox to be aware of the potential risk to
- There have been 18 reported cases of the accidental transmission
of vaccinia since December 2002 - although this is the first reported "third
hand" passing of the virus.
- Vaccinated patients are told to wash their hands regularly
and limit contact with babies.
- The US smallpox vaccination programme is the most extensive
in the world, and was set up in response to the threat that the virus -
eradicated in its wild form in the 1970s - could be used in biological
warfare or terrorism.
- Approximately 500,000 key workers were to be offered
the jab initially - with plans to expand the programme later in 2003.
- However, a relatively high proportion of those given
smallpox vaccine will have severe reactions to the jab - and many experts
predicted that vaccinating so many people would inevitably lead to dozens
- © BBC MMIV