This week brought us the strangest CDC report we’ve read in some time when a man who received a shot of smallpox vaccine passed along a related virus to another man as an STD, which was then passed to a third man. If we were talking about anything but smallpox here, this bizarre scenario would be a case where the cure is worse than the disease, but since the disease is smallpox, that’s not true. Because nothing is worse than smallpox. Nothing.
It’s important to note here that the virus being passed along is not the actual smallpox virus, but the closely related vaccinia virus, which one researcher described as a “kissing cousin” to smallpox, and which helps vaccine recipients develop immunity to the more serious form of the disease. While it’s unnerving, resulting in sores and a rash that are similar to those found in smallpox, the vaccinia virus is much milder, and both infected men were treated and recovered without incident.
Though it’s mild, the disease is quite contagious, and if the itchy rash the vaccine results in isn’t kept covered it can spread to other parts of the body and even other people. And now that it’s been demonstrated that vaccinia can be sexually transmitted through someone who hasn’t even gotten the vaccine, there’s just one more reason to wrap it up. Safe sex saves lives, folks, and it can prevent you from having something like smallpox. Which, even if it isn’t technically smallpox, is pretty embarrassing and unpleasant.
(via Medical Xpress)
- Here’s what the virus looks like in action
- Smallpox is still with us here and there, but we’ve wiped out rinderpest entirely. Hooray!