Smallpox vaccinia virus spread by physical contact

For the fifth time in the past year, a woman who had sexual contact with a member of the U.S. military contracted the vaccinia virus after being exposed to the puncture site for a smallpox vaccine.

The woman in Washington state went to a doctor last February complaining about a swelling lymph node, pain and new sores. And while she explained that her boyfriend had been recently vaccinated against smallpox, removing the bandage over the vaccination site shortly before physical contact, the physicians ran through a battery of STD tests before finding out that their patient tested positive for the vaccinia virus.

The New York Times notes that exposure to the vaccinia virus is rarely dangerous, but could pose problems for people with a compromised immune system, eczema or for women who are pregnant.

- here's the story from the New York Times