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Varicella Zoster Virus

Varicella zoster virus also referred to as VZV is known by many names such as chicken pox virus, varicella virus, zoster virus and human herpes virus type 3 or HHV-3. Varicella is chicken pox and zoster is shingles. These are two different types of illnesses that manifest themselves through lesions, fever, and overall not feeling well. After having the chicken pox typically as a child, the virus lies dormant in the body before reoccurring into a viral infection. Only about twenty five percent of adults will be affected by the reactivation known as shingles.

Both chicken pox and shingles are caused by the varicella zoster igg which is a type of a herpes virus. Chicken pox is spread by human contact through the rash, sneezing, coughing or breathing. The contagious period is from two days before the rash appears and until the last lesion has crusted over. After the chicken pox the virus hibernates in the body’s nerve cells along your spine. When you are an adult and the virus decides to wake up due to stress, aging or a weaken immune system and reappears as pain and a rash. The rash will usually last up to thirty days.

Varicella Zoster

Prevention through immunization is the best way to protect yourself from both of the viruses from the varicella herpes zoster family. The Varicella zoster vaccine known as Varivax is given to children over the age of one. If the child receives the vaccine before the age of thirteen, only one dose is needed. If the vaccine is given to someone over the age of thirteen then another dose is need one to two months after the first dose. If you have never had the varicella zoster vaccine or had chicken pox, avoid contact with anyone that has the virus.
Anyone with the chicken pox should avoid going to work, school or daycare until all the lesions have scabbed over.

The varicella herpes zoster vaccine known as Zostavax can reduce the chance of adults over the age of sixty from getting shingles. This vaccine is for the individuals who have had chicken pox. It isn’t one hundred percent that you will not get shingles however it will reduce the severity of shingles and the risk of postherpetic neuralgia. Postherpetic neuralgia is pain associated with the nerve fibers and skin where the shingles began. Symptoms can be bad enough to interfere with appetite and sleep and can last for months after the lesions have healed.

Varicella zoster igg are the antibodies found in the blood. By testing the blood for igg or igm helps determine what type of infection you have. The doctor will sometimes order the test if there is any concern or confusion as to what type of rash you have. Most varicella zoster episodes are not severe but should be confirmed by the doctor. Even after seeing the doctor and conditions become increasing worst then a follow up doctor’s visit is necessary. The vaccine is the best hope for guarding against varicella zoster virus and the good news is that this vaccine is highly tolerated by most of the population.