Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Reminder of important clinical lesson
Varicella pneumonitis in an immunocompetent patient
  1. I Masih1,
  2. R Boyle2,
  3. A Donnelly3,
  4. A Soye4,
  5. J Kidney1
  1. 1Department of Respiratory medicine, Mater Hospital, Belfast, UK
  2. 2Department of Medicine, Mater Hospital, Belfast, UK
  3. 3Intensive care, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, UK
  4. 4Department of Radiology, Mater Hospital, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to I Masih, izhaq{at}


Varicella zoster virus is known by many different names, including chickenpox virus, varicella virus, zoster virus and human herpes virus type 3, and it causes chickenpox. Primary chickenpox skin involvement is a benign and self-limiting condition. The incidence in the Western world is on the rise. Varicella pneumonitis is a potentially fatal complication. Immunocompromised patients develop aggressive lung disease, but immunocompetent can have serious pulmonary compromise. Timely ICU support, respiratory intervention and antiviral therapy play a key role in improving outcomes. Aciclovir is an established therapy for treating varicella-related illnesses and early commencement in patients with or at risk of complications can be beneficial. This case demonstrates, healthy individuals with chickenpox can develop varicella pneumonitis. Despite being immunocompetent, the patient had significant radiologic changes.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.