Varitect - offers immediate protection after exposure to VZV
Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) is the pathogen of chickenpox and herpes zoster.
Chickenpox is a typical disease of childhood. Most VZV diseases in childhood are cured often after 7-10 days without complications. In adolescence and adults, however the course of the disease can be severe. After the illness has run its course, the disease usually confers long lasting immunity. After primary infection the virus remains latent life-long in the CNS.
Endogenous reactivation of VZV can be triggered by various provoking factors.
Primary infection: lack of protective immunity
Children and pregnant women without specific VZV antibodies have not yet developed protective immunity.
5%-10% of all women of child bearing age are VZV antibody negative and thus susceptible to varicella infection. Varicella infections particularly in the first and second trimesters are of importance for intra-uterine damage to the embryo. Spontaneous abortions or congenital malformations can be the consequence. Varicella infection depends on whether the primarily infected pregnant woman has time to generate VZV specific antibodies that can then be transmitted via placenta to give protection to the fetus.
Neonates and especially premature neonates present a particularly high risk of becoming ill from a severe form of VZV infection if they are children of seronegative mothers. The neonate is dependent on transplacentally transmitted maternal antibodies to be immuned.
Premature neonates born with gestational age of 28 weeks are also at particular risk. Even if their mothers are VZV immune; it must be presumed that the child has received inadequate amounts of maternal antibodies and therefore will have a very limited passive protection.
Secondary infection: reactivation in impaired immunocompetence
If the immunological reactivity is impaired by medication or by illness, reactivation of VZV may occur. Suppression of the immune system in seronegative patients carries the risk of severe VZV primary infection.
Varitect is a hyperimmunoglobulin for intravenous administration that offers immediate protection as the protective antibodies are available without delay. Whereas active immunization is suitable mainly for pre-exposure prophylaxis Varitect is the treatment for post-exposure prophylaxis for patients who have not yet developed protective immunity or whose immune response is suppressed.