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J Clin Microbiol. 2001 Aug;39(8):2856-9.

Quantitation of varicella-zoster virus DNA in patients with Ramsay Hunt syndrome and zoster sine herpete.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, CREST, JST, Hokkaido University School of Medicine, Sapporo, Japan.


Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) reactivation causes facial nerve palsy in Ramsay Hunt syndrome (RHS) and zoster sine herpete (ZSH) with and without zoster rash, respectively. In the present study, we analyzed the VZV DNA copy number in saliva samples from 25 patients with RHS and 31 patients with ZSH using a TaqMan PCR assay to determine differences in the viral load between the two diseases. VZV copy number in saliva peaked near the day of the appearance of zoster in patients with RHS. Consequently, VZV DNA was less frequently detected in patients with RHS who exhibited facial palsy several days after the appearance of zoster. These findings suggest that the VZV load in saliva samples reflects the kinetics of viral reactivation in patients with RHS. In addition, VZV DNA was equally detected in saliva from patients with RHS and ZSH, and there was no significant difference in the highest viral copy number between patients with RHS and those with ZSH. The VZV load does not appear to reflect a major difference between RHS and ZSH.

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