Herpes zoster is the reactivation of an earlier infection with varicella virus, which subsequently resides lifelong in the spinal ganglia. Herpes zoster episodes occur even in HIV patients with relatively good immune status, and are also seen during immune reconstitution (Martinez 1998). With more advanced immunodeficiency, herpes zoster tends to become generalized. In addition to involvement of one or more dermatomes, dangerous involvement of the eye (affecting the ophthalmic branch of the trigeminal nerve, "herpes zoster ophthalmicus", with corneal involvement) and ear (herpes zoster oticus) may occur. Most feared is involvement of the retina with necrotizing retinitis. The neurological complications include meningoencephalitis, myelitis and also involvement of other cranial nerves (Brown 2001).
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