Risk of Vaccinia Transfer to the Hands of Vaccinated Persons after Smallpox Immunization

Thomas R. Talbot, Ellis Ziel, Jennifer K. Doersam, Bonnie Lafleur, Sharon Tollefson, Kathryn M. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Transmission of vaccinia virus after smallpox vaccination is a concern. We conducted a prospective examination of the protection afforded by vaccination-site bandages in recently vaccinated individuals. After smallpox vaccination, inoculation sites were covered with 2 occlusive dressings. Site assessment and bandage changes occurred every 3-5 days until the site was healed. At each visit, specimens from the vaccination site, outer dressing surface, and contralateral hand were obtained for vaccinia culture. For 148 vaccinated subjects, vaccinia was detected from vaccination lesions of every subject on several occasions. Only 6 (0.65%) of 918 dressing (95% CI, 0.24%-1.4%) and 2 (0.22%) of 926 hand (95% CI, 0.03%-0.78%) specimens tested positive for vaccinia. The mean number of bandage changes was 9.6 (95% CI, 9.17-10.0). Vaccinia autoinoculation did not occur. The rate of vaccinia recovery outside occlusive bandages covering smallpox vaccination sites was remarkably low, suggesting excellent protection against inadvertent transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-541
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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