The VZV, which causes chickenpox, remains dormant in a nerve ganglion and may be reactivated later in life. A decrease in cellular immunity may allow the latent virus to become active and spread along the nerve, resulting in clinical zoster. Conditions that are associated with reactivation include acute systemic illness, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, lupus erythematosus, and situations in conjunction with immuno-suppressive therapy such as steroids or antineoplastic drugs.

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