(1997; 132 pages) [French] [Spanish]
Zoster and varicella
In general, primary childhood infections with human (alpha) herpesvirus 3 present as varicella (chickenpox), which is characterized by the appearance of erythematous papules following a short prodromal period of malaise, fever and localized pain. Vesicles subsequently appear over several days, leaving dried crusts. Secondary infection is common. Reactivation of latent virus in children and adults results in shingles, a limited but painful infection of one or more sensory nerve roots. The thoracic dermatomes are most frequently involved.
Intravenous therapy with aciclovir can be of value in serious infections in immunocompromised patients, but in most cases of zoster and chickenpox, all that is required is symptomatic treatment. Oral aciclovir should be reserved for elderly patients, in whom there is an increased risk of persistent postzoster neuralgia.