The incidence of primary chickenpox infection in young adults appears to be rising in the UK and other developed countries. The infection is more severe in adults than in children and complications, including pneumonia, are more frequent. An illustrative case of severe chickenpox pneumonia in an immunocompetent, non-pregnant adult smoker is presented. The epidemiology and pathology of the disease is discussed and a review of current management in the emergency department and the intensive care unit is presented. Strategies for the prevention of chickenpox pneumonia are also discussed.
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