Varicella zoster Immunoglobulin (VZIG) is a scarce blood product that is offered to individuals at high risk of severe chickenpox following an exposure.
Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is offered to individuals at high risk of severe chickenpox following an exposure. This includes immunosuppressed individuals, young babies in their first week of life and pregnant women.
In response to a significant shortage of varicella zoster immunoglobulin (VZIG) in 2018 and a review by a Public Health England (PHE) convened expert working group, updated interim guidelines on PEP for high risk contacts have been published in June 2019. VZIG is recommended for susceptible women exposed in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and neonates. For women exposed from 20 weeks, antiviral agents or VZIG can be used. Antiviral agents are recommended for post-exposure prophylaxis for immunosuppressed individuals.
Chickenpox is an acute, infectious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) and is most commonly seen in children under 10 years old. This virus can also cause shingles (herpes zoster) which tends to be more common in adults. The disease can be more serious in adults, particularly pregnant women.
For symptoms and general information on chickenpox, visit NHS.UK.
Laboratory confirmation of cases of chickenpox is rarely sought as the diagnosis can, in general, be reliably made on clinical grounds. Therefore no laboratory data is available on this website.
Information and guidance for health professionals managing cases of chickenpox (varicella) is available below. Further information on clinical management of chicken pox is available on the NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries website.
Laboratory testing for confirmation of chickenpox is not normally required but can be performed in Public Health England public health laboratories (PHLs).