• Commonly known as chickenpox
  • Also called varicella-zoster virus (VZV)
  • Most common in late winter and early spring
  • Vaccine has reduced incidence by 85%
  • Adults have a 15 times greater risk for death from varicella than children


  • DNA virus:
    • Latency in cranial nerve ganglia, dorsal root ganglia, and autonomic ganglia with periodic reactivation
    • Presents as herpes zoster or shingles decades after primary infection
    • Virus is transmitted by aerosolized droplets from infected host to the respiratory mucosa of susceptible patient
    • Also transmitted by direct contact with skin lesions
    • Humans are only known reservoir

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