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March 22, 1985

Zoster After Exposure to Varicella-Zoster Virus

Author Affiliations

University of Hawaii School of Medicine Honolulu

JAMA. 1985;253(12):1722-1723. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350360048011

To the Editor.—  In QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS, a physician recently asked whether varicella-zoster virus (VZV) exposure could lead to zoster.1 About ten years ago, I got zoster (thoracic dermatome) two to three weeks after caring for a patient with zoster (thoracic dermatome). Two months later, an 8-month-old infant with zoster (thoracic dermatome), whose mother had had varicella in the second trimester, was admitted to my service. About 14 days after the admission, both the medical student caring for the patient and a member of the staff who denied direct contact with the patient got zoster (trigeminal and cervical dermatomes, respectively). Both of them said they had had varicella in childhood, as had I.Although it is wise to keep an open mind, these and other reports in the medical literature2-4 may reflect nothing more than the vagaries of chance and the selectivity of our memories. Zoster is so