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Year : 1993  |  Volume : 59  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 39-40

Herpes zoster in mother transmitting chickenpox to children

Correspondence Address:
S C Sharma

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Transmission of varicella from a 32-year old mother with herpes zoster to her 2 children aged 3 years and 5 years is reported.

Keywords: Herpes zoster, Varicella

How to cite this article:
Sharma S C, Singal A, Gautam R K. Herpes zoster in mother transmitting chickenpox to children. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 1993;59:39-40

How to cite this URL:
Sharma S C, Singal A, Gautam R K. Herpes zoster in mother transmitting chickenpox to children. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol [serial online] 1993 [cited 2020 Apr 6];59:39-40. Available from: http://www.ijdvl.com/text.asp?1993/59/1/39/3879

  Introduction Top

Transmission of varicella infection from patients with herpes zoster is uncommon, though it was first noted by Von Bokay as early as in 1888 [1] and has subsequently been reported by others. [2] The present case report highlights this uncommon mode of transmission.

  Case Reports Top

Two brothers aged 3 and 5 years presented with fever of 3 days duration and skin eruptions of 2 days duration. Their mother aged 32 years gave a history of painful, localised, unilateral vesicular eruption on trunk 3 weeks back. There was no history of similar eruptions in other family members, neighbourhood, or at school.

On examination, both boys had pleomorphic rash consisting of papules and vesiculopustular lesions on erythematous base distributed on face, trunk, back, and limbs. Clinically a diagnosis of chickenpox was made and confirmed on Tzanck smear which showed multinucleated giant cells and ballooning degeneration. Mother's examination revealed grouped hyperpigmented macules in the distribution of T10 segment on right side confirming healed herpes zoster. Both boys were given symptomatic treatment and the lesions cleared in both in 8 and 10 days respectively.

  Comments Top

Varicella and herpes zoster are caused by varicella zoster virus (VZV). Varicella is highly contagious and is transmitted mainly by droplet infection from nasopharynx . The incubation period varies from 10 to 20 days. Herpes zoster usually represents reactivation of residual/latent infection of sensory neurons infected by viraemia of chickenpox. It is usually less infectious and transmission to others is not commonly seen. In the present case both brothers acquired varicella from their mother who had suffered from herpes zoster about 3 weeks back. This interval correlates with incubation period of varicella. Absence of any contact with varicella patient favours the assumed mode of transmission in our patients. The present case reports support the view that in the epidemiology of herpes zoster, droplet transfer of VZV from patient with herpes zoster is possible. [3]

  References Top

1.Oxman MN. Varicella and Herpes zoster. In: Dermatology in General Medicine (Fitzpatric TB,Eisen AZ, Wolff K, et al, eds), 3rd edn. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1987;2314-40.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Wreghitt TG,Whipp PJ, Bagnall J. Transmission of chicken pox to two intensive care unit nurses from a liver transplant patient with zoster. J Hosp Infect 1992; 20: 125-6.  Back to cited text no. 2  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
3.Shishov AS, Smirnov IVK. Epidemiology of herpes zoster. The herpes zoster patient as a source of infection with chicken pox. J Microbiol Epidemiol Immunobiol 1987; 12: 45-50.  Back to cited text no. 3    


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