There have been several important immunologic and chemotherapeutic advances in the treatment and prevention of primary varicella infection over the past decade. By contrast, data of equivalent quality that define the population that may benefit from these interventions and the morbidity and mortality due to primary and recurrent varicella virus infection are not available. The article by Fleischer et al in this issue of the Journal (see p 896) increases our fund of knowledge on the morbidity and mortality.
Most susceptible patients who receive Herpes zoster-immune globulin within 72 hours of primary exposure to varicella virus have a clinical course milder than expected.1-3 Human leukocyte interferon administered within 48 hours after the appearance of the exanthem also attenuates the disease.4 In a recent double-blind, placebo-control study, pre-exposure therapy with transfer factor in immunocompromised patients decreased the morbidity of primary varicella virus infection.5
Antiviral drugs, such as