Aseptic meningitis and optic neuritis preceding varicella-zoster progressive outer retinal necrosis in a patient with AIDS

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Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV) is the second most common ocular pathogen in patients with HIV infection. VZV retinitis is estimated to occur in 0.6% of patients with HIV infection and may occur in one of two clinical syndromes. The first is the acute retinal necrosis syndrome, which also may be seen in immunocompetent hosts. The second clinical syndrome occurs in patients with CD4 cell counts typically < 50 × 106/l and is termed progressive outer retinal necrosis. VZV retinitis has been reported to occur simultaneously with other VZV central nervous system manifestations such as encephalitis and myelitis in HIV-infected patients. In addition, VZV retrobulbar optic neuritis heralding VZV retinitis has recently been described in HIV-infected patients who had suffered a recent episode of dermatomal herpes zoster. Herein we report the case of an HIV-infected individual who presented with VZV meningitis and retrobulbar optic neuritis that preceded the onset of progressive outer retinal necrosis. We also review of the literature of seven additional reported cases of retrobulbar optic neuritis preceding the onset of VZV retinitis.

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