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May 17, 1965

Recurrent Herpes Simplex Primum Nil Nocete

Author Affiliations

Galveston, Tex

JAMA. 1965;192(7):648. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080200066037

To the Editor:—  Many dermatologic textbooks and articles include comments on repeated smallpox vaccination for therapy of recurrent herpes simplex. The authors commonly admit that this has no basis in scientific fact and that its effect is psychotherapeutic.My purpose is to challenge the idea of live virus psychotherapy. I am willing to concede the value of psychotherapeutic procedures for certain dermatologic problems, including recurrent herpes simplex. However, there are many reports of death or severe complications that have occurred from smallpox vaccination. Possible death or illness should automatically exclude the procedure from classification as a placebo or as a psychotherapeutic agent. It is not my intention to disagree with the judicious use of vaccination for smallpox immunization. Many of the adverse reactions are probably immunologic, and could be exaggerated by early and frequent repetition. One of the most common complications is erythema multiforme,1 and I have seen two