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Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2010;342:359-72. doi: 10.1007/82_2010_12.

Perspectives on vaccines against varicella-zoster virus infections.

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Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Primary infection with varicella-zoster virus (VZV) results in varicella which, in populations where immunization is not used, occurs mostly in children. Varicella is a generalized rash illness with systemic features such as fever and malaise. During varicella, VZV becomes latent in sensory ganglia of the individual, and in 70% it remains asymptomatic for their lifetime. The remaining 30% develop reactivation from latency, resulting in herpes zoster (HZ). HZ usually occurs in persons over the age of 50, and is manifested by a painful unilateral rash that usually lasts about 2 weeks and then may be followed by a chronic pain syndrome called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). VZV infections are notoriously more severe in immunocompromised hosts than in healthy individuals. Despite gaps in our understanding of the details of immunity to VZV, successful vaccines have been developed against both varicella and zoster.

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