Chickenpox / Shingles (Varicella Zoster)

What is Chickenpox?

Chickenpox is usually mild, yet highly contagious disease caused by the virus varicella zoster, a type of herpes virus. Symptoms include itchy rash with reddish bumps, fever, aches and weakness. It is spread from person to person by respiratory droplets or by contact with pus from the bumps, either through direct contact or by contact with articles contaminated by lesion discharge.

How will I know if I’m immune?

After having chickenpox, an individual usually gains lifelong immunity to the disease. If you are not aware of your immunity, Employee Health will give you a lab requisition to have your blood drawn for a varicella zoster antibody test. A positive antibody titer means you have had chickenpox and are unlikely to get it again. With a positive antibody titer, you may work with patients who have chickenpox, even if you are pregnant.

What if I’m not immune?

If you are found to be non-immune, you should contact your family physician to have the Varicella Virus Vaccine administered. If you’re are non-immune, you must inform Employee Health of any known contact with anyone with chickenpox, whether at work or away from work. Then Employee Health will assess your exposure and determine if it is safe for you to work with patients during the incubation period of the disease.