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Image IQ: Rash with Chills, Neck Pain, Acute Fever


Rash began with one lesion followed by tender, disseminated eruption; fevers spiked to 102°F. Test your visual diagnostic skills. 


Figure 1.


Figure 2.

A 43-year-old woman presents to the dermatology clinic with complaints of a rash of one weeks’ duration. The first lesion started on the left breast (at right), then scabbed over. About 4 days later, fever, chills, neck pain, and headache abruptly started. The fevers spiked to 102°F. A tender rash then disseminated to involve the face, trunk, and extremities. She denies muscle or joint pain, vomiting, sore throat, diarrhea, or dysuria. The patient reports no other sick contacts.

She lives in an apartment in Brooklyn, New York, and denies recent travel. She works as a cook. She is monogamous with her male partner and lives with 2 children. The patient’s 2-year-old daughter has a similar lesion on her right thigh, but denies other symptoms. The patient had chickenpox in childhood and denies a history of herpes. On questioning, the patient reports that she had called an exterminator 2 weeks ago to deal with a “mouse problem.”

Physical exam is significant for an erythematous plaque with an eschar on one breast. Grey pustulovesicles on an erythematous base can be found on the dorsal hands (image at right), face, arms, legs, and flank. The oral mucosa is clear.

What disease do symptoms and lesions suggest?

Disseminated herpes simplex infection
Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Disseminated herpes zoster infection

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