A 36-year-old healthy man developed an acute febrile illness associated with a vesicular rash. He presented to an urgent care clinic where he was diagnosed with varicella infection ("chicken pox"). The patient did not recall a sick contact or exposure to varicella, but he did report working in an emergency department (ED). He was initially treated with oral acyclovir, but the progression of his lesions eventually required a brief hospitalization for dehydration and acute renal failure. His condition ultimately improved and his symptoms resolved.
The ED worker later learned from his supervisor that a patient had presented to the ED with chicken pox during one of his shifts, and his exposure likely occurred at that time. He raised concern that his illness could have been prevented had proper procedures been in place. His case prompted extensive discussion of infection control procedures among the ED leadership, given that many ED providers were exposed to this highly communicable disease.
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