The epidemiology of herpes zoster in 226 children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Herpes zoster (HZ) is rare in healthy children, but may occur frequently and take a complicated course in children receiving chemotherapy. We determined the morbidity related to HZ in children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).
Medical records of 226 children diagnosed with ALL were reviewed. Of these, 160 were seropositive at the time of diagnosis. HZ eruptions during primary chemotherapy, during therapy for relapse and following bone marrow transplantation (BMT) were registered.
A total of 90 eruptions were recorded: 63 first-time attacks and 27 recurrent episodes among 14 children. All eruptions were treated with acyclovir (ACV) and in 60% it was given intravenously. Cutaneous dissemination occurred in 11 cases, post herpetic neuralgia in five, visceral dissemination in none. During primary chemotherapy 47 children (29%) had HZ. The eruption rate was significantly higher in children on high risk protocols compared to children on standard/intermediate risk protocols (0.36 vs. 0.07/0.09 per year) and was related to intensity of chemotherapy. During therapy for relapse 7 of 29 (24%) had a total of 13 eruptions. Following BMT 9 of 26 (35%) had a total of 10 eruptions.
Almost one third of the seropositive children had HZ during primary chemotherapy. Of those treated on high risk protocols more than half had one or more eruptions during the course of treatment. The risk of complicated HZ is small, but prolonged intensive chemotherapy can lead to considerable morbidity from repeated eruptions. Attempts to improve immunity by vaccination after attaining remission seem warranted.
AuthorsGitte Vrelits Sørensen, Steen Rosthøj, Morten Würtz, Tore Kristian Danielsen, Henrik Schrøder
JournalPediatric blood & cancer (Pediatr Blood Cancer) Vol. 57 Issue 6 Pg. 993-7 (Dec 1 2011) ISSN: 1545-5017 [Electronic] United States
PMID21254379 (Publication Type: Journal Article)
CopyrightCopyright © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
  • Adolescent
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols (therapeutic use)
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Herpes Zoster (complications, epidemiology, therapy)
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma (complications, epidemiology, therapy)
  • Recurrence

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