Varicella-Herpes Zoster Virus

  • Thomas H. Weller


Varicella-zoster virus (Herpesvirus varicellae), commonly abbreviated to “V-Z virus” 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 individual, 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 dermatome innervated by a specific dorsal root or extramedullary cranial ganglion. In contrast to varicella, which follows primary exogenous contact with the causative virus, zoster reflects endogenous activation of a V-Z viral 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 individual with varicella may exhibit a zosteriform concentration of lesions.


Herpes Zoster Attack Rate Cutaneous Lesion Complement Fixation Massachusetts Department 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas H. Weller
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Tropical Public HealthHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.Center for Prevention of Infectious DiseasesHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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