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Chapter 59 : Varicella-Zoster Virus
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Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a readily contagious alphaherpesvirus that commonly causes two distinct exanthematous illnesses. Primary infection with VZV causes varicella, known colloquially as chicken pox, which is characterized by a generalized vesicular rash typically accompanied by fever and other nonspecific symptoms. VZV establishes a lifelong latent infection in the dorsal root ganglia during the first infection, and it can reactivate decades later to cause zoster, also called shingles, a dermatomally distributed and often painful vesicular rash (1, 2). A number of zoster patients present with postherpetic neuralgia, characterized by severe pain that may persist for long periods after the rash has resolved. Some rare complications of zoster include encephalitis, conjunctivitis, keratitis and other eye disorders, Ramsey-Hunt syndrome, neurogenic bladder, and transverse myelitis.