The Varicella zoster virus causes chickenpox in children and shingles in adults.

It appears after the initial infection, it can go dormant in the nerve, and reactivate itself decades later.

In chickenpox - the symptoms are:

characteristic skin rash that forms small, itchy blisters, which eventually scab over. It usually starts on the chest, back, and face then spreads to the rest of the body

In shingles - the symptoms are:

a painful skin rash with blisters involving a limited area. Typically the rash occurs on either the left or right of the body or face in a single stripe.

My question is: What is the name of the property of viruses can activate a second time, with different symptoms?


1 Answer 1


Viral latency is the best term to use for viruses that can lie dormant.

I have not come across a specific term for latent viruses that recur with different symptoms. This is probably because "different" is very subjective. Many pathogens can cause several different forms of disease depending on factors such as the route of exposure (i.e. where and how the pathogen got to its destination). Obviously the latent infection has a different pathophysiology to chickenpox. Due to its latency in dorsal root ganglia, shingles typically results in a localised rash, but there are less common disseminated forms of shingles that can look very similar to chickenpox.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .