Eczema vaccinatum resulting from the transmission of vaccinia virus from a smallpox vaccinee: an investigation of potential fomites in the home environment

Vaccine. 2009 Jan 14;27(3):375-7. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.11.019. Epub 2008 Nov 21.


On March 3, 2007, a 2-year-old boy was hospitalized with eczema vaccinatum. His two siblings, one with eczema, were subsequently removed from the home. Swabs of household items obtained on March 13th were analyzed for orthopoxvirus DNA signatures with real-time PCR. Virus culture was attempted on positive specimens. Eight of 25 household samples were positive by PCR for orthopoxvirus; of these, three yielded viable vaccinia virus in culture. Both siblings were found to have serologic evidence of orthopoxvirus exposure. These findings have implications for smallpox preparedness, especially in situations where some household members are not candidates for vaccination.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Female
  • Fomites / virology*
  • Humans
  • Kaposi Varicelliform Eruption / transmission*
  • Male
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Smallpox Vaccine / adverse effects*
  • Vaccinia virus / isolation & purification*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • DNA, Viral
  • Smallpox Vaccine