|8 month old with eczema vaccinatum after acquiring vaccinia from a sibling recently vaccinated for smallpox.|
|Symptoms||Crops of small blisters, fever, swollen glands|
|Usual onset||Sudden, 5 to 12 days post exposure|
|Risk factors||Atopic dermatitis, other skin diseases|
|Differential diagnosis||Eczema herpeticum, chickenpox, bacterial superinfection|
|Treatment||Vaccinia immune globulin (VIG), antivirals|
|Deaths||35% without treatment, 7% with treatment|
Eczema vaccinatum is a type of vaccinia infection, that may occur in people with atopic dermatitis (eczema) or other skin diseases. Symptoms include a sudden onset of crops of small blisters, typically at sites of skin problems. Typically there is also a fever and swollen glands. Onset is 5 to 12 days post exposure.
While it may occur due to direct smallpox vaccination with vaccinia; more often it occurs following spread from a household member who has had a recent vaccine. While atopic dermatitis is a risk factor for the disease; it is estimated that if vaccinated, only one in a hundred would be affected. The underlying mechanism involves extensive spread of the virus. Diagnosis is usually based on exposure to vaccinia.
Treatment is with vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) and potentially the antiviral medication cidofovir. Prevention may include the use of the MVA-BN vaccine in those at high risk. Scarring often remains after healing. Without treatment around 35% die, and with treatment this is about 7%.
Between 2002 and 2012 only one case was described in the United States. In the United States in 1968 there were 66 cases following 14.5 million smallpox vaccinations, and 60 cases among several million contacts. Males are affected twice as often as females. The condition is believed to have been first described in 1882.
Signs and symptoms
It is characterized by serious local or disseminated, umbilicated, vesicular, crusting skin rashes in the face, neck, chest, abdomen, upper limbs and hands, caused by widespread infection of the skin in people with previous diagnosed skin conditions such as eczema or atopic dermatitis, even if the conditions are not active at the time. Other signs and symptoms include fever and facial and supraglottic edema. The condition may be fatal if severe and left untreated. Survivors are likely to have some scarring (pockmarks).
Smallpox vaccine should not be given to patients with a history of eczema. Because of the danger of transmission of vaccinia, it also should not be given to people in close contact with anyone who has active eczema and who has not been vaccinated. People with other skin diseases (such as atopic dermatitis, burns, impetigo, or herpes zoster) also have an increased risk of contracting eczema vaccinatum and should not be vaccinated against smallpox.
Eczema vaccinatum is a serious medical condition that requires immediate and intensive medical care. Therapy has been supportive, such as antibiotics, fluid replacement, antipyretics and analgesics, skin healing, etc.; vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) may be useful but supplies are deficient as of 2006. Antiviral drugs have been examined for activity in pox viruses and cidofovir is believed to display potential in this area.
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