Severe eczema vaccinatum in a household contact of a smallpox vaccinee

Clin Infect Dis. 2008 May 15;46(10):1555-61. doi: 10.1086/587668.


Background: We report the first confirmed case of eczema vaccinatum in the United States related to smallpox vaccination since routine vaccination was discontinued in 1972. A 28-month-old child with refractory atopic dermatitis developed eczema vaccinatum after exposure to his father, a member of the US military who had recently received smallpox vaccine. The father had a history of inactive eczema but reportedly reacted normally to the vaccine. The child's mother also developed contact vaccinia infection.

Methods: Treatment of the child included vaccinia immune globulin administered intravenously, used for the first time in a pediatric patient; cidofovir, never previously used for human vaccinia infection; and ST-246, an investigational agent being studied for the treatment of orthopoxvirus infection. Serological response to vaccinia virus and viral DNA levels, correlated with clinical events, were utilized to monitor the course of disease and to guide therapy. Burn patient-type management was required, including skin grafts.

Results: The child was discharged from the hospital after 48 days and has recovered with no apparent systemic sequelae or significant scarring.

Conclusion: This case illustrates the need for careful screening prior to administration of smallpox vaccine and awareness by clinicians of the ongoing vaccination program and the potential risk for severe adverse events related to vaccinia virus.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral / therapeutic use
  • Benzamides / therapeutic use
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cidofovir
  • Cytosine / analogs & derivatives
  • Cytosine / therapeutic use
  • DNA, Viral / blood
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / complications
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / therapeutic use
  • Isoindoles / therapeutic use
  • Kaposi Varicelliform Eruption / drug therapy*
  • Kaposi Varicelliform Eruption / pathology
  • Kaposi Varicelliform Eruption / surgery
  • Male
  • Organophosphonates / therapeutic use
  • Plasma / chemistry
  • Skin Transplantation
  • Smallpox Vaccine*
  • United States


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Benzamides
  • DNA, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous
  • Isoindoles
  • Organophosphonates
  • Smallpox Vaccine
  • Cytosine
  • tecovirimat
  • Cidofovir