Varicella-Zoster virus (VZV) infection is well-known for its dermatological appearances, such as chickenpox and shingles. In addition to its dermal disease, we report a case of visceral dissemination of VZV in immunocompromised patients.

A 38-year-old male Caucasian with a history of bone marrow transplantation due to diffuse large B-cell-lymphoma presented himself with severe abdominal pain. Immediate endoscopy revealed numerous gastric and duodenal ulcerations, while histological and molecular evaluation on tissue biopsies and blood samples confirmed VZV infection. Positive serological findings and history of chickenpox during childhood supported visceral VZV dissemination due to reactivation of VZV. The patient received Aciclovir treatment and fully recovered.

This case illustrates that visceral dissemination of VZV may lead to acute abdominal pain due to severe mucosal ulcerations even in the absence of dermatological manifestations. Early endoscopic evaluation may therefore be crucial and the only means to immediately guide differential diagnosis, especially in immunocompromised patients. Characteristic histomorphological findings from mucosal ulcerations should lead to the immediate initiation of antiviral therapy and specific molecular evaluation in order to avoid detrimental spread of visceral VZV infection.


abdominal pain, immunocompromised patient, ulcer, Varicella-Zoster virus infection, visceral nervous system