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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
May 22, 2013

Ohio Varicella Death Is Vaccination Wake-up Call

Author Affiliations

News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Section Editor: Rebecca Voelker, MSJ.

JAMA. 2013;309(20):2088. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.5622

The death of an Ohio teen from varicella should serve as a reminder that catch-up vaccination of older children and adolescents can prevent severe complications and death from infection with varicella-zoster virus.

In March 2009 the 15-year-old girl, who was otherwise healthy but hadn't received the varicella vaccination, was hospitalized with a rash, fever (temperature, 101°F) (38.4°C), and shortness of breath. Initially diagnosed with septic shock, she was given intravenous acyclovir, broad-spectrum antibiotics, and antifungal medications. Health personnel started noninvasive mechanical ventilation, but as her respiratory functions deteriorated, she needed invasive mechanical ventilation.