Varicella zoster Immunoglobulin (VZIG) is a scarce blood product that 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 VZIG due to manufacturing issues, on the advice of a PHE convened expert working group, from 8 August 2018, use of VZIG is restricted to susceptible women exposed in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and neonates.
Antiviral agents are recommended for post exposure prophylaxis for pregnant women exposed after 20 weeks and 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 Choices.
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).