What is the role of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) in the etiology of viral pneumonia?

Updated: Mar 24, 2021
  • Author: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP; Chief Editor: John J Oppenheimer, MD  more...
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Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a highly contagious herpes virus that is spread by the respiratory route or direct contact with skin lesions. Primary infection manifests as chickenpox. The reactivation results in zoster (shingles).

Pneumonia is a significant and life-threatening complication in otherwise healthy adults (including pregnant women) and immunocompromised hosts. This pneumonia is rare in otherwise healthy children but does occur in immunocompromised children.

Complications include secondary bacterial infections, encephalitis, hepatitis, and, with concomitant aspirin use, Reye syndrome. VZV pneumonia also tends be more severe in individuals who smoke.

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