How is varicella-zoster virus (VZV) related to chickenpox (varicella) and zoster (shingles) (herpes zoster)?

Updated: Aug 31, 2020
  • Author: Anthony J Papadopoulos, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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The varicella-zoster virus (VZV) (see the image below) is the etiologic agent of the clinical syndrome of chickenpox (varicella). Zoster, a different clinical entity, is caused by reactivation of VZV after primary infection. VZV is a double-stranded deoxyribonucleic acid virus included in the Alphaherpesvirinae subfamily. (See Etiology.)

Vesicular eruption on the trunk demonstrating papu Vesicular eruption on the trunk demonstrating papules, vesicles, and crusts. Reprinted with permission from Cutis 65: 355, 2000.

See Pediatric Vaccinations: Do You Know the Recommended Schedules?, a Critical Images slideshow, to help stay current with the latest routine and catch-up immunization schedules for 16 vaccine-preventable diseases.

Also, see the 14 Rashes You Need to Know: Common Dermatologic Diagnoses slideshow for help identifying and treating various rashes.

Go to Pediatric Chickenpox for more complete information on this topic.

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