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    Smallpox vaccine poses danger for eczema patients

    New York - As the debate continues on the merits of widespread smallpox vaccination, a report in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology cautioned that vaccines can trigger severe skin reactions among susceptible individuals.

    People with eczema, immune deficiency diseases, those on immune system-suppressing drugs are all vulnerable to vaccinia, a virus that is used in vaccines.

    In people with eczema, exposure to vaccinia through the vaccine or by contact with someone who was recently vaccinated can cause a condition that can lead to scarring, blindness, and even death.

    It is not recommended that individuals with eczema or a history of atopic dermatitis, be "vaccinated under routine circumstances," according to Renata J.M. Engle, M.D., Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington.

    Up to one-half of the U.S. population may be ineligible for routine smallpox vaccination because of the rise in the number of people who suffer from the condition.

    "A major challenge lies in the ability to protect the population from the disease while minimizing the considerable side effects from the vaccine," researchers concluded.

    Doctors should screen for eczema if a smallpox vaccination campaign is launched.

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