Intended for healthcare professionals

Varicella zoster virus – part 2: herpes zoster

This is the second part of a two-part article about varicella zoster virus; this part discusses herpes zoster (shingles). After the primary infection, the virus lies dormant in the dorsal ganglia. It is thought that host cell-mediated immunity prevents viral reactivation and herpes zoster. Immunoglobulins can be detected almost immediately after the initial rash of varicella zoster appears; they neutralise the virus but do not prevent its reactivation. Any factor impairing the cellular immune system can trigger viral replication and viraemia. The most common factors in the general population are concurrent illness, trauma, advancing age, stress and sunburn.
Dermatology in practice 2007; 15(4): 8–10
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