VZV (Varicella Zoster Virus or human herpesvirus 3, HHV-3) is a pathogenic human alpha
herpesvirus that causes varicella (chicken pox). Primary infection begins with itchy, inflamed
blisters on the surface of the skin. Infection also takes place in the peripheral nervous system and
establishes a long period of latency in the peripheral nervous system. After a variable period of
time, the virus can reactivate, due to a variety of factors, including increased age and
immunosuppression. The reactivated virus causes herpes zoster (shingles), characterized by
extremely painful vesicular skin eruptions and frequently complicated by acute pain, diverse
neurological sequelae, vision problems, and long lasting post-herpetic neuralgia.
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