As part of the war on terror, University of Iowa researchers took part in a study that found the smallpox vaccine -can- be diluted and still retain its potency. Dr. Patricia Winokur , a U-of-I professor of internal medicine and lead author of the study, says the results are very encouraging.Dr. Winokur says “This is exactly what we want to hear. We have a vaccine for emergency purposes. There is work going on today to try and develop a less side effect-ridden vaccine but we do have protection if we need it tomorrow.” While the vaccine was diluted tenfold, the side effects were still prominent. They’re temporary — things like fever, fatigue and a sore arm. Winokur says the U.S. has a limited supply of smallpox vaccine and this research shows what we have will be plenty to go ’round.Smallpox could be a very lethal killer in the hands of a bio-terrorist. Winokur says the disease was eradicated globally nearly three decades ago, but this research was ordered after threats arose that the long-gone disease might be revived by criminals. The U.S. population was vaccinated for smallpox until 1972 and it was discontinued as the risk was very small. It was eradicated globally by the late 1970s. The study’s findings appeared in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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