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Diagnosis, antiviral therapy, and prophylaxis of varicella-zoster virus infections.

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV), an important member of the Herpesviridae family, is the etiological agent of varicella as primary infection and zoster as recurrence. An outstanding feature is the lifelong viral latency in dorsal root and cranial nerve ganglia. Both varicella and zoster are worldwide widespread diseases that may be associated with significant complications. However, there is a broad spectrum of laboratory methods to diagnose VZV infections. In contrast to many other viral infections, antiviral treatment of VZV infections and their prevention by vaccination or passive immunoprophylaxis are well established in medical practice. The present manuscript provides an overview about the basic knowledge of VZV infections, their laboratory diagnosis, antiviral therapy, and the prevention procedures, especially in Germany.

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