The Varicella Test - Determining Your Immunity To Chickenpox

July 29, 2011

The varicella blood test is a common test used to determine your immunity status for Chickenpox.

Varicella Titer Test

Throughout life, we contract or are exposed to numerous infections. Some of these infections are worse than others. Let's look at varicella, the virus that causes chickenpox or shingles.

The Varicella Test (also called the Varicella Titer Test) is a blood test that is performed for two main reasons. First, it is used to determine if a person has been previously exposed to the varicella zoster virus (VZV) through vaccination or previous infection and has developed immunity to the disease. Secondly, it is used to distinguish between active or prior infection.

Chickenpox or Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV).

Chickenpox is a classic childhood disease. Those with Chickenpox develop hundreds of fluid-filled blisters that become quite itchy. The blisters eventually break and form crusts.

Shingles is caused when the varicella virus that caused Chickenpox "starts up" again. This usually occurs in adults and the virus affects the nerve roots. This causes pain and a common rash along the affected nerve.

General screening is not performed since most adults have been exposed to VZV and most children are vaccinated. However, the Varicella Test is commonly used in certain circumstances. Those requiring the Varicella blood test may include pregnant women, newborns, and in patients prior to organ transplant. Those is high risk environments may also be tested. These may include students or healthcare workers.

So, how does the Varicella Test work?

Following exposure to the virus, the immune system will produce antibodies in response. These include IgG and IgM. The IgM antibodies are first to be produced and this is followed by production of the IgG antibodies. After exposure, a person will have some level of IgG antibodies in their blood for their lifetime. This is what is detected when using the varicella blood test.

Determining your immunity level to varicella can be not only important for your health, but also important for schooling or your career.