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Varicella Zoster Virus IGG Antibody

Also known as: Serum varicella IgG levels, IgG ELISA, the chickenpox test, herpes zoster test, varicella-zoster virus antibody, and chickenpox-shingles test.


What is the Varicella-zoster virus IgG antibody test?


Varicella-zoster virus is a common virus belonging to the human alpha herpes virus family and causing conditions, i.e., varicella and zoster. Varicella is commonly known as chicken pox, characterized by small red blisters on the skin, fatigue, and fever. At the same time, zoster is the common name for shingles because of the belt-like appearance of shingles. Shingles are marked primarily by a painful rash around the torso and blisters. After affecting the body with chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus inactively resides in nerve tissue near the central nervous system and may reactivate to cause shingles. Varicella-zoster virus IgG antibody test is done to help identify the presence of antibodies against the varicella-zoster virus in the blood. The antibodies may be present in the blood if you are already immune to the virus due to a previous infection or are currently infected. The virus is highly contagious and can transmit if you come in contact with the infected person.


What is the test used for?


The test checks the levels of IgG antibodies present in the blood against the varicella-zoster virus. IgG antibodies are made as a delayed response to the virus and remain in the blood for lifelong. So, the presence of IgG antibodies may specify late stages of the infection or previously developed immunity against the virus.


The varicella-zoster virus IgG antibodies test helps confirm whether the person has been infected in the past or is more recently infected with chickenpox (varicella) or its reactivation (herpes zoster). The criteria to differentiate between previously developed immunity and recent infection is the antigen-antibody binding affinity. People with previous infection or immunization have a high affinity for antigen-antibody binding, whereas recently infected people have a low affinity.     


Why and when do you need to get tested?


The virus takes about 14 days as an incubation period, during which it causes primary viremia and secondary viremia. Primary viremia is the stage where it infects the immune cells present in the liver and spleen, whereas, in secondary viremia, T-cells are affected. As soon as the secondary viremia period starts, signs and symptoms appear.


The doctor suggests the varicella-zoster IgG antibody test if you are suspected of having these symptoms. Initial non-rash symptoms of chickenpox are;


● Headache.

● Fever.

● Loss of appetite.

● Sore throat.

● Overall weakness.


After which, you start to experience the classic symptoms, which include;


● Skin lesions on the scalp, face, and trunk which progress and recover in stages;

● Red and pink flat itchy spots, which then get elevated and bumpy.

● Fluid-filled vesicles.

● The blisters soon get crusty and scab over.


Different bumps are at different stages all over the body.


What kind of sample is required?


To diagnose IgG antibodies, the serum is used by the laboratory. So, your blood sample will be taken. For that, a healthcare professional performs venipuncture. Before this, a tourniquet is tied around your arm to ensure vein distention. Now, the puncture site is cleaned with an alcohol pad, and a small needle is inserted into the vein on either the back of your hand or in front of the elbow. Blood is drawn and stored in a tube. The tube is then sent to check for varicella-zoster IgG antibodies.   


Do you need to prepare for the test?


You are not supposed to do any special preparations as it is a normal blood test, and you can normally eat and drink before the test hour. However, if you take any medications or antibiotics, you should talk about them to your doctor before getting the test done. 


Are there any risks to this test?


A blood test usually involves low to no complications. They may include;


● A slight pinch is felt when the needle goes in.

● A little bleeding.

● A Small bruise at the puncture site.


You are supposed to contact your doctor in case of;


● Discharge from the punctured site.

● Dizziness or fainting.

● Excessive bleeding.

● Fever.


What does the test result mean?


A positive test result for varicella-zoster virus IgG antibody could mean a few different situations;


1. If your blood serum shows the presence of IgG antibodies, but you don’t have any symptoms, that is either because of your previous infection or you have received its vaccine.


2. If you are showing symptoms along with the presence of antibodies, then you are infected with the varicella-zoster virus. Its infection is relatively mild in children, whereas it is more severe in adults and immunosuppressed persons.


Once diagnosed with the virus, your doctor will prescribe you antiviral medications. Starting treatment early may help prevent serious complications. Most cases recover in approximately 14 days.


Related tests:


● Whole infected cell ELISA.

● Varicella-zoster virus PCR.

● Varicella-zoster virus IgM antibody test.







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