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N Engl J Med. 1986 Jan 23;314(4):208-12.

Treatment of varicella-zoster virus infection in severely immunocompromised patients. A randomized comparison of acyclovir and vidarabine.


In a prospective, randomized trial, we compared intravenous acyclovir and vidarabine in the treatment of varicella-zoster virus infection in severely immunocompromised patients who presented within 72 hours of onset of the infection. Eleven patients were treated in each group. Cutaneous dissemination of infection occurred in none of the 10 acyclovir recipients and in 5 of the 10 vidarabine recipients who had presented with localized dermatomal disease (P = 0.016). As compared with vidarabine, acyclovir treatment shortened the median periods during which cultures were positive for the virus (four vs. seven days, P = 0.004) and new lesions formed (three vs. six days, P = 0.03). Acyclovir also shortened the median interval until the first decrease in pain (4 vs. 7 days, P = 0.005), the pustulation of all lesions (4 vs. 7 days, P = 0.0004), the crusting of all lesions (7 vs. 17 days, P = 0.0003), and the complete healing of lesions (17 vs. 28 days, P = 0.003). In addition, acyclovir reduced the incidence of fever (two vs. eight patients, P = 0.015). We conclude that acyclovir is better than vidarabine for the treatment of varicella-zoster infection in immunocompromised patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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