National Eczema Group Issues Warning About Smallpox Vaccination
Eczema Sufferers Cautioned Not To Take Vaccine
February 2003 (Newstream) -- The National Eczema Association for Science and Education (NEASE) on February 18 urged anyone who currently has or has ever suffered from eczema or atopic dermatitis not to receive the smallpox vaccine unless they have been exposed to smallpox, because of a heightened risk of life threatening reactions.
The Association cautioned that the smallpox vaccine contains a live virus that can be harmful or even fatal to those with eczema or atopic dermatitis. NEASE also said that family members of eczema sufferers should not take the vaccine unless they have been exposed to smallpox, because the live virus in the vaccine can harm the afflicted family member on contact.
Any eczema sufferer who has come in contact with another's vaccine site or believes they have come in contact with the live virus should immediately and thoroughly wash with soap and warm water and alert their physician.
Eczema and atopic dermatitis, which affect an estimated 17 million Americans, causes an itchy red, scaly rash that often comes and goes. If the live virus from the vaccine site gets into broken skin, it can cause a rash in that area. Most people recover from the rash with treatment, but in those with eczema it can be quite severe, sometimes leading to scarring or even death.
Exposure includes touching the vaccination site before it has healed or coming into contact with the live virus in any way, including contact with towels, clothing, washcloths, or bandages used by a person who has received the vaccine. The danger period of transmission lasts from three weeks to one month.
"People with eczema or atopic dermatitis tend to have a mild immune defect in their skin that can allow certain viruses such as vaccinia (the live virus used in the smallpox vaccine) to spread both over the skin and internally, sometimes causing a lethal infection," said Dr. A. Paul Kelly, chief of the Division of Dermatology of King/Drew Medical Center, Los Angeles, and a member of the NEASE Scientific Advisory Committee.
NEASE recommends that those who have been vaccinated cover their smallpox vaccine site with special bandages that will markedly reduce, if not eliminate, the risk of transmitting the virus to others.
Life threatening reactions that can occur from the vaccine include serious skin rashes caused by widespread infection of the skin or ongoing infection of the skin with tissue destruction that frequently leads to death.
Serious reactions include a vaccinia rash or outbreak of sores limited to one area, or a widespread vaccinia rash that spreads from the vaccination site throughout the blood. In this case, sores break out on parts of the body away from the vaccination site.
The hotline to reach The National Eczema Association for Science and Education is 1-800-818-7546 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Eczema and Atopic Dermatitis
Eczema is a general term for any type of dermatitis or "inflammation of the skin." Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most severe and chronic kind of eczema. AD is a disease that causes itchy, inflamed skin. It typically affects the insides of the elbows, backs of the knees, and the face, but can cover most of the body.
AD falls into a category of diseases called atopic, a term originally used to describe the allergic conditions asthma and hay fever. AD was included in the atopic category because it often affects people who either suffer from asthma and/or hay fever or have family members who do. Physicians often refer to these three conditions as the "atopic triad."
AD almost always begins in childhood, usually in infancy. Its symptoms are dry, itchy, scaly skin, cracks behind the ears, and rashes on the cheeks, arms, and legs. It alternately improves and worsens. During "flare-ups," open weeping or crusted sores may develop from the scratching or from infections.
About the National Eczema Association for Science and Education (NEASE)
NEASE was established in 1988 by patients and medical professionals to improve the health and the quality of life of persons living with atopic dermatitis/eczema, including those who have the disease as well as their loved ones. NEASE can be contacted at 415-499-3474, or email@example.com.