Acute Pancreatitis Due to Disseminated Varicella Zoster Infection in an Individual with Newly Diagnosed Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) infection is generally considered as a benign and self-limiting disease. However, individuals with VZV infection can have disseminated to various organs leading to serious complications, particularly in adults. This pattern is more prevalent in immunosuppressed individuals. Disseminated varicella is historically known to involve the central nervous system (CNS), liver, and lungs. However, dissemination of varicella to the pancreas and subsequently causing acute pancreatitis has been rarely reported. We present a case of disseminated varicella infection in a newly diagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) patient causing acute pancreatitis at initial disease presentation and subsequently leading to multi organ dysfunction. A 42-year-old African American female who was initially being treated for Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) at an inner-city hospital developed severe epigastric pain radiating to back along with nausea on day 2 of admission. Physical findings revealed tachycardia, epigastric tenderness and newly formed vesicular rash involving the neck and face classical of varicella infection. Skin biopsy and serum sample confirmed varicella infection by VZV polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Labs revealed elevated lipase, amylase at a level diagnostic of acute pancreatitis. The patient had no other risk factors for pancreatitis. She was started on intravenous Acyclovir and intravenous hydration with isotonic normal saline. She was managed conservatively for other systemic complications. Pancreatitis resolved after five days of clinical presentation. She completed two weeks of Acyclovir, her condition steadily improved and she was successfully discharged home with no further recurrence. Acute pancreatitis is a rare infectious association of disseminated varicella infection. Clinicians should always be mindful of this infectious etiology as one of the rare differentials for acute pancreatitis as this is a treatable cause and could prevent morbidity, mortality associated with this condition if treated timely.