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June 16, 1978

Varicella in the Immunocompromised Host

Author Affiliations

Bureau of State Services Center for Disease Control Atlanta

JAMA. 1978;239(24):2551-2552. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280510035012

To the Editor.—  We would like to comment on a recent article by Keene and colleagues (239:45-46, 1978) discussing a 17-year-old girl with disseminated varicella complicating ulcerative colitis.The approach taken to varicella in the immunocompromised host is a function of the point at which the diagnosis is entertained. In a patient receiving steroid therapy in whom varicella develops after an unsuspected exposure, therapy should consist of immediate tapering of steroid dosage to physiological levels insofar as is possible.1,2 In addition, two other modes of therapy may be useful in such patients. Adenosine arabinoside, an investigational antiviral agent, is available to immunocompromised patients with either disseminated varicella or disseminated herpes zoster through Richard Whitely, MD, or the University of Alabama Medical Center, Birmingham (205-934-5316 or 205-822-6459). Ann Arvin, MD, and Thomas Merigan, MD, of Stanford University, Stanford, Calif (415-497-5715, 415-321-6015, or 415-854-3788) are making interferon, another investigational agent, available

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