One hundred fifty-three patients who underwent autologous bone marrow transplant (ABMT) were studied retrospectively to determine the frequency, outcome, and risk-factors associated with varicella-zoster infections (VZV). Forty-three patients (28%) developed VZV infection after transplant. The median onset of infection was the fifth month, with 91% of cases occurring within the first year. Thirty-three patients (77%) had localized herpes zoster, and ten patients (23%) had varicella. Cutaneous dissemination developed in 15% of patients and probable visceral dissemination developed in 5%. Overall morbidity was 25% and included scarring, alopecia, postherpetic neuralgia, and neurologic dysfunction. There were no deaths from VZV infection. The majority of patients (79%) were treated with intravenous (IV) acyclovir. The only significant risk factor associated with VZV infection was the underlying disease. VZV infection occurred most frequently in patients with Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (46%) as compared with patients with leukemia (23%) or solid tumors (9%) (P less than .002). The frequency of VZV infection in ABMT patients appears to be comparable to that reported for allogeneic BMT patients and other immunocompromised patients.

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