Varicella-zoster virus

Causes both chickenpox (Varicella) and herpes zoster (shingles).

Herpesvirus type 3.

A neurotrophic herpes virus that gains access to sensory neurons during childhood infection with varicella.

In North Americaa more than 95% of young adults are seropositive for VZV and are at risk for herpes zoster.

Historically by adulthood virtually the entire population experienced varicella and was at risk for herpes Zoster with the approximately 1 million episodes of herpes zoster now occurring in the US annually.

Prior to varicella vaccine approximately 4 million cases of chicken pox occurred, mostly in children, annually in the U.S. with about 12,000 hospitalizations and 145 deaths.

Vesicle skin lesions of varicella and herpes zoster contain high concentrations of varicella-zoster virus which can be transmitted to susceptible persons.

The use of the chickenpox vaccine during childhood is not related to the rising incidence of herpes zoster (HZ) in individuals older than 65 years of age.

The universal chickenpox vaccine started being used in the United States in 1996.

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