Although Bell's palsy is the major cause of acute peripheral facial palsy, its pathogenesis remains unknown. Reactivation of the varicella zoster virus has been implicated as one of the main causes of Bell's palsy, however, studies which investigate the varicella zoster virus reactivation in Bell's palsy patients are mostly Japanese and, therefore, personal and geographic characteristics are quite different from our population. AIMS: To determine varicella zoster virus frequency in saliva samples from patients with Bell's palsy, using PCR. MATERIAL AND METHOD: One hundred seventy one patients with acute peripheral facial palsy were prospectively enrolled in this study. One hundred twenty were clinically diagnosed with Bell's palsy, within one week of onset of the disease and no previous anti-viral therapy. We had 20 healthy adults as controls. Three saliva samples were collected from patients and controls at initial examination and at one and two weeks later. The detection of the varicella zoster virus DNA was performed using PCR. RESULTS: Varicella zoster virus was detected in two patients (1.7%). The virus was not identified in saliva samples from the controls. CONCLUSIONS: Varicella zoster virus was detected in 1.7% of saliva samples from patients with Bell's palsy, using PCR.
prospective studies; varicella; bell's palsy; facial paralysis; herpes zoster