Herpes zoster is the recidivans form of varicella-zoster virus infection. The primary infection varicella or chickenpox most commonly occurs as an acute childhood exanthem. Widespread introduction of a vaccine for this exanthem will alter the incidence of varicella, but it is uncertain what the long-term effect will be on the incidence of zoster. The virus establishes latent infection in sensory ganglia at the base of the brain and spinal column. As the cell-mediated immune response conferred at the time of primary infection wanes, the disease increases in incidence. Certain provoking factors and concomitant illness are associated with attacks.
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