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Dermatology Online Journal

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Disseminated varicella-zoster virus in an immunocompetent adult


Varicella-zoster is the virus that causes varicella (chicken pox), herpes zoster (shingles), and rarely, severe disseminated disease including diffuse rash, encephalitis, hepatitis, and pneumonitis. Disseminated disease is most often seen in immunocompromised patients. We describe a case of disseminated zoster in an immunocompentent patient who had previously been immune to VZV. This case is also unusual in that his clinical presentation was most consistent with varicella while his laboratory data was most consistent with herpes zoster. For the purpose of rapid diagnosis and initiation of appropriate therapy, clinicians should be aware of these more atypical presentations of VZV infection.

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