Live, attenuated varicella zoster vaccination of an immunocompromised patient

J Gen Intern Med. 2008 May;23(5):648-9. doi: 10.1007/s11606-008-0558-4. Epub 2008 Feb 20.

Abstract

A vaccine for the prevention of herpes zoster outbreaks in adults over the age of 60 years has recently been approved. A 76-year-old white female with a history of recurrent left axillary breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy was given a Zostavax injection by her primary care physician. Eight days later, the patient developed a rash. Given the recent administration of live, attenuated varicella zoster virus (VZV), a diagnosis of disseminated cutaneous herpes zoster was made. The patient was treated successfully with a course of famciclovir for 10 days and cephalexin for 7 days for a secondary bacterial infection. A review of the medical literature disclosed no reports of Zostavax given to adult cancer patients immunocompromised by systemic chemotherapy. Therefore, we believe this report is the first to describe the consequences of Zostavax administration to such a host. Clinicians should take care to review contraindications and precautions prior to administering the Zostavax vaccine.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Contraindications
  • Female
  • Herpes Zoster / etiology*
  • Herpes Zoster Vaccine / adverse effects*
  • Herpesvirus 3, Human / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 3, Human / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host / immunology*
  • Physicians, Family
  • Vaccines, Attenuated / adverse effects*

Substances

  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Herpes Zoster Vaccine
  • Vaccines, Attenuated