Varicella zoster virus

Common Name(s)

Varicella zoster virus

Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is a herpes virus that causes the chicken pox in children and shingles in adults. VZV first enters the body either through the respiratory tract or the eyes, and later infects the nervous system. Symptoms of fever and general discomfort are noticed between 10-21 days after initial exposure to the virus. A characteristic rash with red, spotted lesions will then appear in several stages, often spreading from the head downwards to the arms and legs. The rash will be more severe when seen in adults than in children.

Symptoms are most common in the winter and early spring. The disease may be spread through the air or by direct contact with infected individuals at any time until their rash has dried into crusted lesions. After symptoms clear, VZV remains inactive (latent) in nerves and results in lifetime immunity for most people. Reactivation later in life results in shingles (herpes zoster), which occurs in 50% of people by age 85. Shingles is most common in the elderly with weakened immune systems and who were exposed to VZV either while in the womb or at less than 18 months of age.

Complications occur most commonly in individuals younger than 1 year or older than 15 years of age, and in those with weakened immune systems due to other health problems. Complications are often caused by bacterial or viral infection of the skin lesions, especially in young children. Aseptic meningitis is the most common complication that affects the central nervous system, and will generally have mild symptoms. Encephalitis is a rarer and more serious complication that may result in seizures or coma.

Hospitalizations and complications from VZV have decreased since the introduction of the vaccine. Those affected with VZV should not take aspirin, as it may result in Reye’s syndrome, a serious condition that causes brain death and liver damage. If you have been diagnosed with VZV, talk to your doctor about the current treatment options.

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Advocacy and Support Organizations

 

Condition Specific Organizations

Following organizations serve the condition "Varicella zoster virus" for support, advocacy or research.

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General Support Organizations

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Scientific Literature

Articles from the PubMed Database

Research articles describe the outcome of a single study. They are the published results of original research.
The terms "Varicella zoster virus" returned 830 free, full-text research articles on human participants. First 3 results:

The natural history of varicella zoster virus infection in Norway: Further insights on exogenous boosting and progressive immunity to herpes zoster.
 

Author(s): Luigi Marangi, Grazina Mirinaviciute, Elmira Flem, Gianpaolo Scalia Tomba, Giorgio Guzzetta, Birgitte Freiesleben de Blasio, Piero Manfredi

Journal:

 

We use age-structured models for VZV transmission and reactivation to reconstruct the natural history of VZV in Norway based on available pre-vaccination serological data, contact matrices, and herpes zoster incidence data. Depending on the hypotheses on contact and transmission patterns, ...

Last Updated: 25 May 2017

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Varicella zoster virus glycoprotein C increases chemokine-mediated leukocyte migration.
 

Author(s): Víctor González-Motos, Carina Jürgens, Birgit Ritter, Kai A Kropp, Verónica Durán, Olav Larsen, Anne Binz, Werner J D Ouwendijk, Tihana Lenac Rovis, Stipan Jonjic, Georges M G M Verjans, Beate Sodeik, Thomas Krey, Rudolf Bauerfeind, Thomas F Schulz, Benedikt B Kaufer, Ulrich Kalinke, Amanda E I Proudfoot, Mette M Rosenkilde, Abel Viejo-Borbolla

Journal:

 

Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is a highly prevalent human pathogen that establishes latency in neurons of the peripheral nervous system. Primary infection causes varicella whereas reactivation results in zoster, which is often followed by chronic pain in adults. Following infection ...

Last Updated: 25 May 2017

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Varicella-zoster virus seroprevalence in children and adolescents in the pre-varicella vaccine era, Germany.
 

Author(s): Miriam Wiese-Posselt, Anette Siedler, Annette Mankertz, Andreas Sauerbrei, Hartmut Hengel, Ole Wichmann, Christina Poethko-Müller

Journal:

 

In 2004, universal childhood varicella vaccination was introduced in Germany. We aimed to determine the age-specific prevalence of anti-varicella zoster virus (VZV) IgG-antibodies among children in the pre-varicella vaccine era in Germany, to identify factors associated with VZV seropositivity, ...

Last Updated: 20 May 2017

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Reviews from the PubMed Database

Review articles summarize what is currently known about a disease. They discuss research previously published by others.
The terms "Varicella zoster virus" returned 57 free, full-text review articles on human participants. First 3 results:

Simultaneous Occurrence of Varicella Zoster Virus-Induced Pancreatitis and Hepatitis in a Renal Transplant Recipient: A Case Report and Review of Literature.
 

Author(s): Puneet Chhabra, Priyadarshi Ranjan, Deepak K Bhasin

Journal: Perm J. 2017 ;21():.

 

Gastrointestinal complications are common after renal transplantation, including oral lesions, esophagitis, gastritis, diarrhea, and colon carcinoma. The differential diagnosis is difficult in this scenario because multiple factors such as drugs, infections, and preexisting gastrointestinal ...

Last Updated: 23 Mar 2017

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Varicella zoster virus triggers the immunopathology of giant cell arteritis.
 

Author(s): Don Gilden, Maria A Nagel

Journal: Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2016 Jul;28(4):376-82.

 

Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is a severe form of vasculitis in the elderly. The recent discovery of varicella zoster virus (VZV) in the temporal arteries and adjacent skeletal muscle of patients with GCA, and the rationale and strategy for antiviral and corticosteroid treatment for GCA are reviewed.

Last Updated: 26 May 2016

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Herpes zoster ophthalmicus and varicella zoster virus vasculopathy.
 

Author(s): Francisco Bandeira, Marina Roizenblatt, Guido Carlos Levi, Denise de Freitas, Rubens Belfort

Journal: Arq Bras Oftalmol. 2016 Apr;79(2):126-9.

 

Herpes zoster (HZ) corresponds to the reactivation of varicella zoster virus (VZV). Among adults, the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve is one of the most common sites of involvement. Vasculopathy caused by HZ is associated with significant morbidity and mortality, affecting ...

Last Updated: 26 May 2016

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Clinical Trial Information This information is provided by ClinicalTrials.gov

Herpes Zoster Vaccine for Bone Marrow Transplant Donors
 

Status: Recruiting

Condition Summary: Herpes Zoster

 

Last Updated: 2 May 2017

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Safety and Tolerability of Herpes Zoster Vaccine Rheumatologic Patients
 

Status: Recruiting

Condition Summary: Herpes Zoster

 

Last Updated: 5 Feb 2017

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