Last Updated: 2013-12-03
Varicella is an infectious disease caused by primary infection with varicella-zoster virus (VZV).
The disease typically presents with fever, malaise, and a widespread vesicular and pruritic rash primarily on the torso and face.
Adults, pregnant women, immunosuppressed patients, and neonates are at high risk of complications, including pneumonia, neurologic sequelae, hepatitis, secondary bacterial infection, and death.
Patients in high-risk categories should receive antiviral therapy as treatment.
While most countries in Europe do not currently vaccinate children against varicella, in the US varicella vaccine is currently recommended for immunization of immunocompetent children and susceptible adults (e.g., healthcare workers, those occupationally exposured to children, hospitalized patients, military recruits).
Patients with high risk for severe disease who have had significant exposure to the virus and in whom the vaccine is contraindicated (i.e., neonates, pregnant women, immunocompromised people, and those receiving high-dose systemic immunosuppressive therapy) may receive immunoprophylaxis.
Male patient with varicella on the torso
Image provided by the CDC and the Public Health Image Library
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