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Table of Contents   
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 312-313
Staphylococcal endocarditis after chicken pox in a child with structurally normal heart

Department of Pediatrics, PGIMER, Dr. RML Hospital, New Delhi, India

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Date of Web Publication21-Aug-2017

How to cite this article:
Bhatt DD, Kharkwal N, Yadav DK. Staphylococcal endocarditis after chicken pox in a child with structurally normal heart. Ann Pediatr Card 2017;10:312-3

How to cite this URL:
Bhatt DD, Kharkwal N, Yadav DK. Staphylococcal endocarditis after chicken pox in a child with structurally normal heart. Ann Pediatr Card [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 Aug 9];10:312-3. Available from:


Chicken pox (varicella) is usually a benign childhood illness, but it can occasionally cause life-threatening complications. Complications related to varicella are mainly neurologic and infectious. Cardiac complications of chicken pox include myocarditis, pericarditis, and rarely infective endocarditis.

An 18-month-old child presented with 1 week history of high-grade fever and respiratory distress. Two weeks back, he had a fever with rash and was clinically diagnosed to have chicken pox. The patient was apparently asymptomatic for the next 1 week. At this point, he had a recurrence of fever with breathing difficulty and presented to us. On examination, he had brown hyperpigmented macules of 1–2 mm size all over the trunk, pallor, tachycardia, tachypnea, and crepitation in chest bilaterally. Cardiovascular examination revealed hyperdynamic precordium with grade III/VI pan systolic murmur in the apex. Chest X-ray showed cardiomegaly with features of pulmonary venous hypertension.

Laboratory investigations showed neutrophilic leukocytosis and moderate anemia. His blood culture showed growth of methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus. Echo showed large vegetation of 1.3 cm × 0.7 cm size on the posterior mitral leaflet with perforation of posterior mitral leaflet with severe mitral regurgitation [Figure 1]. Apart from receiving intravenous antibiotic as per the sensitivity report, he was also given medications for heart failure. His heart failure was refractory to medical management, and he developed features of disseminated intravascular coagulation and succumbed to his illness before surgical intervention could be done.
Figure 1: Echocardiography in apical four chamber view showing diastolic (left) and systolic (right) frames. Vegetation is seen in posterior mitral leaflet (white arrow pointing right), and mitral regurgitation is seen to occur through perforated posterior mitral leaflet (black arrow pointing left). LA = left atrium, LV = left ventricle

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In the literature, only a handful of case reports has highlighted this rare complication of chicken pox.[1],[2] A variety of pathogens including S. aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, Group A: Beta-hemolytic Streptococcus have been implicated in these reports.

The exact cause of susceptibility to bacterial infection after chicken pox is not clear. Superadded bacterial infection occurring on the skin lesions caused by chicken pox could serve as a nidus for invasive infections. Suppressed function of dendritic cells and subsequent negative effect on T-helper cells may partly explain this.[3] Transient granulocyte killing defect associated with varicella has also been described previously.[4]

Exactly, how a systemic infection can cause endocarditis in a previously normal heart valve is not clear. In general, infective endocarditis occurs in previously malformed heart valves or is associated with conditions promoting valve injury like central venous catheters. Most reported cases of postvaricella endocarditis have been in children with previously normal heart.[1],[2] It could well be that these so called normal hearts might be abnormal to begin with and only manifest symptoms due to decompensation after infective endocarditis.

Varicella is known to predispose to vasculopathy of both large and small cerebral vessels in both leading to neurological complications. The pathogenic mechanism of this vasculopathy is a viral infection of the cerebral arteries.[5] Could varicella cause a similar infection of the endothelium and damage the heart valves? This question needs further research.

We conclude that infective endocarditis is a rare complication of chicken pox and more research is needed to understand the exact pathogenesis of this complication of varicella.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Gold LC, Barbour SD, Guerrero-Tiro LM, Koopot R, Lewis K, Rudinsky MF, et al. Staphylococcus aureus endocarditis associated with varicella infection in children. Pediatr Infect Dis J 1996;15:377-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
Laskey AL, Johnson TR, Dagartzikas MI, Tobias JD. Endocarditis attributable to group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus after uncomplicated varicella in a vaccinated child. Pediatrics 2000;106:E40.  Back to cited text no. 2
Schönrich G, Raftery MJ. Dendritic cells as Achilles' heel and Trojan horse during varicella zoster virus infection. Front Microbiol 2015;6:417.  Back to cited text no. 3
Blank CA, Nagel JE, Adler WH, Heldrich FJ. A transient granulocyte killing defect secondary to a varicella infection. Md Med J 1989;38:739-42.  Back to cited text no. 4
Gilden D, Cohrs RJ, Mahalingam R, Nagel MA. Varicella zoster virus vasculopathies: Diverse clinical manifestations, laboratory features, pathogenesis, and treatment. Lancet Neurol 2009;8:731-40.  Back to cited text no. 5

Correspondence Address:
Dheeraj Deo Bhatt
Department of Pediatrics, PGIMER, Dr. RML Hospital, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/apc.APC_17_17

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  [Figure 1]

This article has been cited by
1 Infective Endocarditis Following Chicken Pox: A Rare Association
The Kurume Medical Journal. 2019; 66(2): 127
[Pubmed] | [DOI]