The number of varicella zoster virus-infected mononuclear cells in blood samples obtained during 3 days before appearance of vesicular skin rashes could be estimated in 13 of 21 immunocompetent children with varicella and viremia (range, 1-83 per 107 mononuclear cells). The virus was isolated from 5% of adherent cells (1/21),71% ofnonadherent cells (12/17),43% ofT lymphocytes (9/21), and 33% ofB lymphocytes (7/21). The number of vesicleson the body correlated with the maximum body temperature, duration of fever, and number of infected cells in the blood. These results indicate that varicella zoster virus infection in immunocompetent children is disseminated by circulating T and B lymphocytes and the severity of the viremia is reflected in the severity of the disease.
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