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An outbreak of severe BCG axillary lymphadenitis in Saint Lucia, 1982-83

Helmick, C.G.; D'Souza, A.J.; Goddard, N.

West Indian Medical Journal 35(1): 12-17

1986


ISSN/ISBN: 0043-3144
PMID: 3716387
Accession: 068587526

An epidemic of BCG axillary lymphadenitis affected at least 37 children, primarily infants, in Saint Lucia in late 1982 and early 1983. Eleven infants had spontaneous rupture or required incision and drainage of suppurative lymph nodes. Cases developed axillary lymphadentis from 1-22 weeks after immunization with Connaught BCG vaccine, first introduced into the country in September, 1982. No single factor could be reliably implicated as the sole cause of the epidemic. More potent BCG vaccines, such as the Connaught product, give better protection but more reactions than weaker BCG vaccines and may reduce patient compliance with the Expanded Programme or Immunization in general. Those in BCG programmes should be alert to adverse reactions and scrupulous in storng, reconstituting, and administering the correct dose of BCG vaccine intradermally. Keeping good vaccination records and vials of each lot of vaccine used can help to determine whether epidemics of adverse reactions are occurring and what their cause might be.

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