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Varicella zoster in sudden infant death
  1. Stéphane Dauger1,
  2. Jerome Le Goff2,
  3. Anna Deho1 and
  4. Peter Jones1,3,4,5
  1. 1 PICU (SMUR) Réanimation Pédiatrique, Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris, Hôpital Robert Debré, Paris, France
  2. 2 Service de Virologie, Assistance Publique, Hopitaux de Paris, Virologie, Hôpital St. Louis, Paris, France
  3. 3 Department of Respiratory, Critical Care and Anesthesia, Institute of Child Heath – Great Ormond Street, London, UK
  4. 4 UMR 1153, INSERM, Paris, France
  5. 5 SAMU de Paris, Assistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris, France
  1. Correspondence to Dr Peter Jones, peter.jones{at}


A 2-month-old girl with normal development and no previous physical illnesses was resuscitated having been found lifeless on her back at home. On admission to Paediatric Intensive Care, she had severe metabolic disturbance, associated with an extremely troubling neurological signs. She died 2 hours later. A full body CT scan did not reveal injury and her parents declined an autopsy. Peripheral blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples were sterile. However, a broad-range PCR coupled with electrospray-ionisation mass spectrometry onto the PLEX-ID automat of peripheral blood revealed the presence of varicella zoster virus. There was a specific viral load in whole blood of 20 542 copies/ml. It is presumed that Varicella myocarditis was the likely cause of death. Our case illustrates the potential usefulness of a broad range PCR strategy in determining infectious causes of death in sudden infant death. Varicella is a potential cause of sudden infant death.

  • arrhythmias
  • paediatric intensive care
  • sids
  • infectious diseases

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  • Contributors SD co-led the work and made a major contribution to writing. JLG performed virological analyses and contributed to writing. AD was clinician in charge of the case and liaison with family. PJ co-led the work and authored the article.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Parental/guardian consent obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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