Live, Attenuated Varicella Zoster Vaccination of an Immunocompromised Patient
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- Curtis, K.K., Connolly, M.K. & Northfelt, D.W. J GEN INTERN MED (2008) 23: 648. doi:10.1007/s11606-008-0558-4
A vaccine for the prevention of herpes zoster outbreaks in adults over the age of 60 years has recently been approved. A 76-year-old white female with a history of recurrent left axillary breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy was given a Zostavax® injection by her primary care physician. Eight days later, the patient developed a rash. Given the recent administration of live, attenuated varicella zoster virus (VZV), a diagnosis of disseminated cutaneous herpes zoster was made. The patient was treated successfully with a course of famciclovir for 10 days and cephalexin for 7 days for a secondary bacterial infection. A review of the medical literature disclosed no reports of Zostavax® given to adult cancer patients immunocompromised by systemic chemotherapy. Therefore, we believe this report is the first to describe the consequences of Zostavax® administration to such a host. Clinicians should take care to review contraindications and precautions prior to administering the Zostavax® vaccine.