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.
After reviews of the effectiveness of antivirals and varicella zoster immunoglobulin (VZIG) in prevention of chickenpox, antiviral medication is now the post exposure treatment of choice for all immunosuppressed patients and pregnant women, regardless of stage in pregnancy. The only group of individuals where VZIG is recommended for PEP is those neonates exposed within 1 week of delivery, either in utero from maternal infection or post-delivery.
VZIG will only be issued for susceptible neonates exposed within 1 week of birth (either in utero from maternal infection, or post-delivery) or if oral antivirals are contraindicated due to malabsorption, or renal toxicity, or because the patient is less than 4 weeks of age
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 UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) public health laboratories (PHLs).