Varicella-zoster (chickenpox and shingles)

Statutory notification alert

Public health management

Important information

  • Infectious agent: Varicella-zoster virus.
  • Transmission: Varicella is usually spread by respiratory droplet. Varicella can also be spread by direct or indirect contact with fluid from the blisters of an infected person.
  • Incubation period: From 2 to 3 weeks, commonly 13 to 17 days.
  • Infectious period: From 2 days before rash appears until blisters have formed crusts.
  • Case exclusion: Exclude for at least 5 days after rash appears and until blisters have formed crusts. Note that crusts alone do not warrant exclusion.
  • Contact exclusion: Do not exclude. Post-exposure vaccination can be offered to non-immune contacts, if not contraindicated. Refer immunosupressed contacts to their doctor.
  • Treatment: Do not give aspirin to a child under 16 years of age who has varicella as it may cause Reye's syndrome. Anti-viral treatment is available for complicated or severe cases. Refer cases to their doctor.
  • Immunisation: Recommended that children be vaccinated according to the Western Australian vaccination schedule. Vaccination is recommended for non-immune adults, especially women planning pregnancy, healthcare workers, people working with children and people working in long-term care facilities. See Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th edition, Department of Health (external site).
  • Case follow-up: Is conducted by local public health units (Healthy WA).

Guidelines

Notifiable disease data and reports

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