Varicella (Chicken Pox) IgG Antibody Titer Test

The following is a list of what is included in the item above. Click the test(s) below to view what biomarkers are measured along with an explanation of what the biomarker is measuring.

Also known as: Chicken Pox, Herpes Zoster, Shingles, VaricellaZoster Virus Antibody IgG

Varicella Zoster Virus

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The Varicella (Chicken Pox) IgG Antibody Titer Test test contains 1 test with 1 biomarker.

Brief Description: The Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV) titer test, also known as the VZV antibody test or VZV serology, is a laboratory test that measures the levels of antibodies against the varicella-zoster virus in the blood. The varicella-zoster virus causes two distinct clinical manifestations: chickenpox (varicella) and shingles (herpes zoster).

Please Note: Varicella-Zoster Virus Antibody IgG #4439 reliably measures immunity due to previous infection but may not be sensitive enough to detect antibodies induced by vaccination. Thus, a negative result in a vaccinated individual does not necessarily indicate susceptibility to VZV infection. A more sensitive test for vaccination-induced immunity is Varicella Zoster Virus Antibody Immunity Screen, ACIF #14505.

Also Known As: Varicella Titer Test, VZV Titer Test, VZV Test, Varicella Test, VZV Antibody Test, Chicken Pox Titer Test, Chicken Pox Test, Shingles Titer Test, Shingles Test, Herpes Zoster Virus Test, Herpes Zoster Titer Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is a Varicella Zoster IgG Antibody test ordered?

A VZV titer test may be ordered in the following situations:

  1. Immunization Verification: It is commonly ordered to confirm immunity or vaccine response to varicella-zoster virus after receiving the varicella vaccine.

  2. Suspected Infection: The test may be ordered when there is a suspicion of varicella or herpes zoster infection, especially if the person has not been previously vaccinated or has no history of prior infection.

  3. Pregnancy Planning: It may be ordered for women who are planning to become pregnant and have uncertain or unknown immunity to varicella-zoster virus.

What does a Varicella Zoster IgG Antibody blood test check for?

The varicella zoster virus, a member of the herpes virus family, is responsible for chickenpox and shingles. Antibodies produced by the immune system in response to a VZV infection or the virus itself are detected in varicella zoster virus tests.

To detect and diagnose a current or previous infection with VZV, tests for chickenpox and shingles may be used. Testing is not always necessary to diagnose a current infection because clinical signs and symptoms are often suffice, but in some persons with unusual skin lesions, a diagnostic test can assist confirm the illness. The tests may be used to detect a present infection in some people, particularly organ transplant recipients and pregnant women, or to establish whether or not they have developed immunity from a previous infection or immunization.

VZV affected practically everyone in the United States by adulthood before the release and widespread use of a chickenpox vaccine in 1995. While VZV is present in latent form in many adults who were infected as children, the prevalence of new episodes of chickenpox has decreased dramatically, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vaccine is around 98 percent effective in avoiding illness after two doses, and those who do get sick usually have milder symptoms.

Chickenpox can be caused by the Varicella zoster virus in children and adults who have not been vaccinated or exposed previously. The primary illness is highly contagious, and it can be spread from person to person by coughing, sneezing, or touching blister fluid. Signs and symptoms of a primary infection include an itchy rash that appears two weeks after virus introduction, followed by the creation of pimple-like papules that turn into small, fluid-filled blisters. The vesicles rupture, forming a crust, and then healing. Over the course of a few days, this process proceeds in two or three waves or "crops" of several hundred vesicles.

The virus becomes dormant after the original infection has passed, remaining in sensory nerve cells. During the infection, the person produces antibodies that usually prevent them from contracting chickenpox again. The virus can reactivate later in life particularly in persons with compromised immune systems, traveling down the nerve cells to the skin and causing shingles.

A mild to intense burning or itching discomfort in a band of skin at the waist, face, or another area is a symptom of shingles. It normally occurs in one region on one side of the body, although it can also happen in many places. A rash with or without vesicles occurs in the same region many days after the pain, itching, or tingling begins. The rash and pain go away in most people after a few weeks, and the virus becomes latent again. A few people may experience pain that lasts for months.

For elderly persons, a shingles vaccination is now available. This vaccine reduces the chances of the virus reactivating as shingles and the severity of the symptoms if it does. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices started recommending a shingles vaccine for all persons aged 60 and up in 2006. The vaccination, however, is not suggested for people with weaker immune systems.

The majority of chickenpox and shingles cases go away on their own. The condition can be more severe and long-lasting in persons with weaker immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or organ transplant recipients. It may not become latent in some circumstances and spread to the central nervous system.

The consequences of VZV exposure on a developing baby or infant in pregnant women vary depending on when it occurs and whether or not the mother has already been exposed. A primary VZV infection in the first 20 to 30 weeks of pregnancy might cause congenital defects in the unborn infant. The infant may be born with or acquire chickenpox after birth if the illness begins one to three weeks before delivery, though the newborn may be partially protected by the mother's antibodies. VZV infection can be lethal if a newborn is exposed to it at birth and does not have maternal antibody protection.

Lab tests often ordered with a Varicella Zoster IgG Antibody test:

When a VZV IgG Antibody test is ordered, it's often part of a broader evaluation of immune status or in the assessment of immune response following vaccination. Here are some tests commonly ordered alongside it:

  1. Varicella Zoster Virus IgM Antibody Test:

    • Purpose: Detects IgM antibodies to VZV, which appear shortly after the initial infection or reactivation of the virus.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To distinguish between a past infection and a recent or active infection, especially in cases where chickenpox or shingles is suspected.
  2. Complete Blood Count (CBC):

    • Purpose: Provides a broad picture of overall blood health, including white blood cell count.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To detect signs of infection or inflammation, which can accompany active VZV infection.
  3. Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Types 1 and 2 Antibody Tests:

    • Purpose: To detect antibodies against HSV-1 and HSV-2, the viruses that cause oral and genital herpes.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To differentiate between VZV and HSV infections, as they belong to the same virus family and can present with similar symptoms.
  4. Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) IgG Antibody Test:

    • Purpose: To measure immunity against measles, mumps, and rubella.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Often part of a comprehensive assessment of immunity, especially for healthcare workers or individuals planning to travel or start a family.
  5. Hepatitis A and B Antibody Tests:

    • Purpose: To determine immunity to hepatitis A and B.
    • Why Is It Ordered: For a broader assessment of immune status, particularly in healthcare, travel, or occupational settings.
  6. Tetanus and Diphtheria Antibodies:

    • Purpose: To assess immunity against tetanus and diphtheria.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Part of routine immunization status checks, especially in adults who may need booster vaccines.
  7. Immunoglobulin (IgG, IgM, IgA) Levels:

    • Purpose: To measure the levels of different types of immunoglobulins in the blood.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To assess overall immune function, which can be relevant in understanding the response to infections and vaccines.

These tests, when ordered alongside a Varicella Zoster Virus IgG Antibody test, provide a comprehensive view of an individual's immune status and history of exposure to various infections. They are important for confirming immunity, diagnosing active infections, and planning vaccinations or other preventive health measures. The specific combination of tests will depend on the individual’s health history, vaccination status, and potential exposure risks.

Conditions where a Varicella Zoster IgG Antibody test is recommended:

A Varicella-Zoster Virus titer test may be required in the following conditions or situations:

  1. Suspected Varicella (Chickenpox): In cases where a person presents with symptoms consistent with varicella infection, a titer test can help confirm the diagnosis.

  2. Suspected Herpes Zoster (Shingles): A titer test may be ordered when a person develops symptoms suggestive of shingles, especially in cases where the diagnosis is uncertain.

  3. Immunity Verification: The test is commonly ordered to verify immunity after vaccination or to assess the need for vaccination in individuals who lack a documented history of chickenpox infection.

How does my health care provider use a Varicella Zoster IgG Antibody test?

Health care providers use the results of a Varicella-Zoster Virus titer test to:

  1. Confirm Immunity: A positive IgG result indicates immunity to varicella-zoster virus, either through vaccination or previous infection.

  2. Diagnose Active Infection: A positive IgM result, along with symptoms consistent with varicella or herpes zoster, suggests an active or recent infection.

  3. Guide Vaccination: In individuals with no history of chickenpox or uncertain immunity, a negative or low IgG titer may indicate the need for varicella vaccination.

It's important to note that the interpretation of Varicella-Zoster Virus titer test results should be done by qualified health care providers. The results should be evaluated in conjunction with the individual's clinical presentation, medical history, and other relevant factors to make an accurate diagnosis and guide appropriate management.

What do my Varicella Zoster test results mean?

Detection of IgG antibodies are used to determine whether or not a person has experienced previous infection or received vaccination for Varicella Zoster Virus.

Most Common Questions About the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test:

Understanding the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer Test

What is the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test?

The Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV) Titer test is a blood test that measures your immune system's response to the varicella-zoster virus, which causes both chickenpox and shingles. It's used to confirm whether you've had past exposure to the virus or have received vaccination against it.

Why would a Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test be performed?

A VZV titer test might be performed to verify immunity to chickenpox or shingles, particularly for healthcare workers or those who work around individuals with weakened immune systems. It could also be used to confirm a suspected diagnosis of chickenpox or shingles, particularly in unclear cases.

Interpreting VZV Titer Test Results

What does a positive Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test result mean?

A positive VZV titer test indicates the presence of antibodies against the varicella-zoster virus. This could mean you've previously been infected with the virus or have been vaccinated against it, and thus are likely to be immune to future infections.

What does a negative Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test result mean?

A negative result suggests that there are no detectable antibodies against the varicella-zoster virus in your blood. This could mean that you've never been exposed to the virus nor received the vaccine, and you are likely susceptible to infection.

Can the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test tell the difference between a past infection and vaccination?

No, the test detects the presence of VZV antibodies but cannot distinguish whether they resulted from a natural infection or vaccination.

VZV Titer Test and Specific Populations

Why might pregnant women need a Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test?

Pregnant women who are unsure of their varicella immunity status may be tested. If a woman contracts varicella during pregnancy, it can pose risks to the fetus, so it's important to confirm immunity.

Can the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test be used to confirm immunity in people who were vaccinated against chickenpox?

Yes, the VZV titer test can be used to confirm if an individual has developed immunity following varicella vaccination.

Why would healthcare workers need a Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test?

Healthcare workers may be tested for VZV immunity because they are at a higher risk of exposure to patients with varicella or shingles. Ensuring immunity can help protect both healthcare workers and their patients.

Should international travelers have a Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test?

Travelers heading to countries where chickenpox is common might consider getting tested, especially if they don't know their immunity status. This can help prevent illness while abroad.

VZV Titer Test and Disease Management

Can the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test help in diagnosing shingles?

Yes, the VZV titer test can be used in the diagnosis of shingles, particularly when the characteristic rash is absent or the diagnosis is otherwise unclear.

How does the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test relate to Postherpetic Neuralgia (PHN)?

Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is a complication of shingles characterized by nerve pain that persists after the shingles rash has cleared. A VZV titer test can confirm past infection with VZV, which could be relevant in the diagnosis of PHN.

VZV Titer Test and Other Tests

How does the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test relate to the VZV PCR test?

PCR testing for VZV is another method for detecting the virus, but instead of looking for antibodies, it identifies the presence of the virus's DNA in the body. It is particularly useful for detecting active VZV infections.

What other tests might be performed alongside the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test?

Depending on the patient's symptoms and health status, additional tests may include other viral titer tests, full blood count, or tests for other diseases that cause similar symptoms, such as herpes simplex or bacterial skin infections.

General Queries

Can the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test results be influenced by recent vaccination?

Yes, if you've recently been vaccinated against varicella, the vaccine can trigger your immune system to produce antibodies, which would then be detected by the test.

Can the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test be used to determine if I need a shingles vaccine?

Yes, if you have no history of chickenpox or shingles and the titer test indicates you don't have VZV antibodies, your doctor may recommend the shingles vaccine.

Can illness or medication affect the results of a Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test?

Yes, severe illness or immunosuppressive medication could potentially impact the levels of antibodies detected in the test.

Does a positive Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test mean I'm immune to shingles?

Not necessarily. Even if you're immune to chickenpox, you can still get shingles, which is a reactivation of the dormant varicella-zoster virus in your body. However, having antibodies could potentially result in a milder shingles outbreak.

Can the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test be performed on a newborn?

Yes, it can be performed on a newborn, particularly if there's a suspicion of congenital varicella syndrome.

What role does the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test play in organ transplantation?

In the context of organ transplantation, both donors and recipients may be tested for VZV immunity. This helps guide vaccination decisions and manage the risk of infection post-transplant.

Can the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test detect an active infection?

Not directly. The presence of antibodies suggests past exposure to the virus, but doesn't indicate whether an infection is active. Other tests, like PCR, may be used to detect an active VZV infection.

Can the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test detect a reactivation of the virus?

While the VZV titer test can confirm exposure to the virus, it cannot differentiate between a past, dormant, or reactivated infection. A sudden onset of symptoms associated with shingles, however, might indicate a reactivation of the virus.

How does the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test relate to the herpes virus family?

The varicella-zoster virus is a part of the herpesvirus family. As such, the VZV titer test is one of several tests used to detect infections caused by different herpesviruses.

Can the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test results change over time?

Yes, the level of VZV antibodies can decrease over time, especially in the absence of a new exposure to the virus.

Can the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test help in diagnosing a case of chickenpox in adults?

Yes, the test can help confirm a diagnosis of chickenpox in adults, especially when the presentation is atypical.

Can the Varicella-Zoster Virus Titer test predict the severity of a shingles outbreak?

No, the VZV titer test can't predict the severity of a shingles outbreak. It simply indicates whether your body has been exposed to the virus in the past or if you have immunity from vaccination.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

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