Reactivation of Herpes Zoster Keratitis With Corneal Perforation After Zoster Vaccination

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Abstract

Purpose:

We present a case of reactivated herpes zoster keratouveitis of 6 years duration with corneal perforation requiring penetrating keratoplasty shortly after inoculation with herpes zoster vaccine (Zostavax, Merck, Quebec, Canada).

Methods:

Retrospective case report.

Results:

A 67-year-old woman with a 5-year history of recurrent unilateral herpes zoster keratouveitis in her right eye presented with another recurrence 2 weeks after Zostavax vaccination. Three months later, she developed descemetocele and 2 months afterward, corneal perforation, which was managed by penetrating keratoplasty. Immunohistopathological examination disclosed positive staining for varicella zoster virus in most of the keratocytes adjacent to the descemetocele and perforation, most vividly in the deeper two-thirds of the stroma where the keratocytes were most dense, but not in corneal epithelium or endothelium. Electron microscopic examination showed universally severely degenerated corneal keratocytes in the corneal stroma adjacent to the perforation with variable numbers of herpes virus capsids present in half of these cells. Only a rare normal-appearing keratocyte was identified in the more peripheral corneal stroma.

Conclusions:

We present a case of reactivation of herpes keratouveitis shortly after vaccination with Zostavax in a patient with previous herpes zoster ophthalmicus. We demonstrate, for the first time, ultrastructural evidence consistent with inactive virus capsids in diffusely degenerated keratocytes in the extracted corneal tissue.

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