Secondary and Tertiary Transmission of Vaccinia Virus After Sexual Contact With a Smallpox Vaccinee — San Diego, California, 2012

Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

By: Shao, Hai ; McDonald, Eric C. ; Ginsberg, Michele M.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a suspected case of vaccinia virus infection in San Diego in June 2012 that was transmitted by sexual contact with a person recently vaccinated against smallpox. The County of San Diego Public Health Laboratory confirmed a secondary transmission of vaccinia virus from the smallpox vaccinee to the patient and tertiary transmission from the patient to an unvaccinated sexual partner, but no further transmission was reported. Although the vaccinee—who received the vaccine through the U.S. Department of Defense smallpox vaccination program—did not experience any complications tied to vaccination, the secondary and tertiary patients were hospitalized. The patients were urged to avoid sexual or other intimate contact until the lesions were completely healed and educated on the importance of hand hygiene, managing infectious fomites, and lesion care. Officials also made sure the military clinic administering the smallpox vaccine provided vaccinees with the required instructions to prevent virus transmission.

Copyright © 2014 Information, Inc.