For many years, no one seems to have paid much attention to varicella-zoster virus (VZV); this pathogen seemed not to be taken very seriously. VZV was long known to cause varicella, also known as chickenpox, an anodyne name. How could one take chickenpox seriously in comparison to the already recognized and very serious diseases, the great pox (syphilis) and smallpox? The source of the name “chicken” is lost in history but may refer to the farmyard bird or to the chickpea which varicella’s typical vesicular lesions are said to resemble. Varicella was thought to be an inconsequential disease; it was considered a rite of childhood that everyone experienced, from which they recovered after a few days.


Grant Support

R01DK093094; Biken Institute of Osaka University


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PediatricsColumbia University College of Physicians and SurgeonsNew YorkUSA

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