It has been shown that varicella zoster virus (VZV) and herpes simplex virus (HSV) can co-localize to the same sensory ganglion. However, only a few case reports on VZV/HSV co-infections exist.Objective
To identify and characterize patients with concurrent VZV and HSV infection at the same body site.Subjects/Methods
In 1718 patients, the presence of VZV and HSV in suspicious skin lesions was investigated by polymerase chain reaction analysis. Clinical characteristics of co-infected patients were compared with matched control patients infected with either VZV or HSV. The data are discussed in the context of an extensive review of the literature.Results
Twenty (1.2%) of 1718 patients were infected with both VZV and HSV at the same body site. The mean age was 54 years (range, 2–83). The clinical diagnosis was zoster in 65%, herpes simplex in 20%, varicella in 10% and erythema multiforme in 5% of cases. The trigeminus region was affected in 60% and the trunk in 25%. Involvement of the head was most commonly associated with a severe course of disease and with older age.Conclusion
Simultaneous VZV/HSV infection is rare but can occur in immunocompetent patients, which is often overlooked. The majority of cases is localized to the trigeminus region and affects elderly people.