Abstract Title:

Development of resistance to acyclovir during chronic infection with the Oka vaccine strain of varicella-zoster virus, in an immunosuppressed child.

Abstract Source:

J Infect Dis. 2003 Oct 1;188(7):954-9. Epub 2003 Sep 26. PMID: 14513413

Abstract Author(s):

Myron J Levin, Karen M Dahl, Adriana Weinberg, Roger Giller, Amita Patel, Philip R Krause

Article Affiliation:

Section of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado 80262, USA. [email protected]


A 1-year-old boy was vaccinated with the Oka strain of varicella just prior to the discovery of a tumor that required intensive antitumor therapy. Three months later he developed herpes zoster, which developed into chronic verrucous lesions that were refractory to treatment with acyclovir and which subsequently disseminated. DNA from a biopsy specimen of a chronic herpes-zoster lesion indicated that the Oka vaccine strain of the the virus caused this severe complication. Analysis of this viral DNA demonstrated a mutation in the viral thymidine kinase gene. Plasmids containing this altered gene were unable to produce functional thymidine kinase in an in vitro translation system. The presence of this mutation would explain the clinical resistance to acyclovir. This is the first report of Oka-strain varicella virus causing severe disease after reactivation and of resistance to acyclovir during an infection caused by this virus.

Study Type : Human Study

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