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Herpes zoster virus Highly contagious infection with the varicella-zoster herpesvirus, usually affecting children. An attack gives lifelong immunity, but the virus remains dormant in nerves and in later life may cause shingles (see below) Causes crops of itchy vesicles, typically starting on the back. Spread by direct contact or the respiratory route, via droplets. Chickenpox exposure during pregnancy can be hazardous to both mother and the unborn child, and women should be offered varicella zoster immumoglobulin (VZIG) to prevent infection, or if infection has occurred, treatment with an antiviral agent (acyclovir). Chickenpox is a notifiable disease in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but not in England and Wales.

Practice Nurse featured article 

Infectious diseases in children: chickenpox Mary Lowth.

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