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July 2, 1960


JAMA. 1960;173(9):1030. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.03020270056013

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IN 1942, Waring, Neuberger, and Geever reported the first well-documented case of fatal chickenpox in an adult. Subsequently, numerous other instances have been described, but it is still not fully realized that this relatively benign childhood disease is of such a potentially disastrous nature in adults.

In this issue of The Journal, p. 978, Fish reports four maternal deaths due to chickenpox, which reemphasizes the fact that this virus disease, as many others, may have an entirely different host reaction in adults as compared to children. In none of the cases was the seriousness of the patient's condition realized by the attending physician until marked pulmonary distress occurred. This was probably due to a lack of awareness that chickenpox can produce severe interstitial pneumonitis and other significant visceral complications. Although these cases were concurrent with pregnancy, there is apparently no particular susceptibility to varicella during gestation nor any increased danger

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