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New Drug Treats Smallpox Vaccine Complication

Tames rare skin infection

FRIDAY, Feb. 18, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a blood-plasma derived product that treats rare skin infections caused by smallpox vaccination.

Dryvaxx, the licensed smallpox vaccine, is made from a live virus that's similar to smallpox. The newly approved product, called Vaccina Immune Globulin Intravenous (VIGIV), is made from the pooled plasma of donors who received booster immunizations against skin infections caused by the virus used to make the vaccine, the FDA said in a statement.

While the smallpox vaccine could also lead to side effects including sore arm, fever and body rashes, VIGIV will not treat these reactions, the agency said. The most frequent side effects of VIGIV itself are headaches, hives and rashes.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cited smallpox as a disease believed to pose the greatest threat to public health from bioterrorism, along with anthrax, botulism and plague, the FDA said. No proven treatment for smallpox exists, and about 30 percent of cases prove fatal, the agency said.

Visit the CDC to learn more about the smallpox vaccine.

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