An Immunocompetent Patient With a Vesicular Rash and Neurological Symptomatology

Chad J. Cooper, Sarmad Said, Sayeed khalillullah, Sucheta Gosavi, Ogechika Alozie


Viral infection is the most common cause of aseptic meningitis with the majority in the United States being caused by enteroviruses. In viral meningitis, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shows a mild pleocytosis with a lymphocytic predominance, elevated protein and normal glucose level. Nucleic acid amplification methods have greatly improved the detection of viral pathogens. In our case, a 47-year-old Caucasian female patient presented with a persistent throbbing headache for six days, localized to the frontal area, associated with photophobia, exacerbated by bright lights and loud noises. Physical examination revealed nuchal rigidity and a vesicular rash at the right T4-T6 dermatome region. CSF findings were consistent with aseptic meningitis and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was positive for VZV. Clinical improvement in meningeal signs and symptoms occurred after the initiation of acyclovir to complete a total 10 day course. There are no published data revealing that acyclovir will modify the course of VZV meningitis, but it is important to recognize the potential clinical benefit with the early initiation of antiviral therapy, especially if a zoster rash is discovered on examination. However, this is rarely the case because the majority of VZV meningitis will not present with a rash. Even though the reactivation of VZV is not usually associated with clinical meningitis; it is important to consider VZV in the differential diagnosis of a patient presenting without a rash with CNS disease. PCR has been proven to be useful and quick diagnostic tool in the early diagnosis of VZV associated neurological disease.

J Med Cases. 2013;4(9):620-622


Headache; Varicella Zoster virus; Aseptic meningitis

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