JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Varicella zoster and herpes simplex virus infections

I Gurevich
Heart & Lung: the Journal of Critical Care 1992, 21 (1): 85-91
1310493
There are six herpes viruses, three of which, the varicella-zoster virus and the herpes simplex viruses types 1 and 2, are of particular concern to patients and staff in critical care units. These viruses, especially in their reactivated states, may present atypically in critically ill and immune-suppressed patients, and, by the time the diagnosis is made, exposures of other patients and clinicians may have occurred. Pregnancy and immunosuppressed states can result in severe, even life-threatening varicella-zoster virus infections in susceptible adults. Similarly, nosocomial herpes simplex virus infections can have serious consequences for exposed patients and staff. An additional problem after herpes simplex virus infection is the potential of lifelong and possibly frequent recurrences. In this article, the manifestations, modes of transmission, and treatment will be discussed. Special emphasis will be placed on describing the types of patients who are at high risk of presenting with varicella-zoster virus or herpes simplex virus infection so that physicians and nurses can use appropriate preventive measures to avert nosocomial infections in patients and staff.

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