Varicella—Herpes Zoster Virus

  • Thomas H. Weller


Varicella—zoster virus (Herpesvirus varicellae), commonly abbreviated to “V-Z virus” or “VZV,” is the etiological agent of two diseases of man, varicella and herpes zoster. Varicella (chickenpox) is a ubiquitous, contagious, generalized exanthematous disease of seasonally epidemic propensities that follows primary exposure of a susceptible person, most often a child. Herpes zoster (shingles) is an endemic sporadic disease, most frequent in elderly people, characterized by the appearance of a unilateral, painful, vesicular eruption localized to the derma-tome innervated by a specific dorsal root or extra-medullary cranial ganglion. In contrast to varicella, which follows primary exogenous contact with the causative virus, zoster reflects endogenous activation of a VZV infection that has survived in latent form following an attack of varicella. The two clinical entities are not as distinct as is customarily assumed. The patient with zoster frequently develops a disseminated varicelliform eruption; rarely, the person with varicella may exhibit a zosteriform concentration of lesions.


Herpes Zoster Attack Rate Communicable Disease Cutaneous Lesion Indirect Fluorescent Antibody Test 
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Suggested Reading

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas H. Weller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Tropical Public Health, Center for Prevention of Infectious DiseasesHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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