Varicella-Zoster Virus Antibody

Does this test have other names?

Serum varicella immunoglobulin G antibody level, chickenpox antibody test

What is this test?

This test looks for antibodies in your blood that your body makes against the varicella-zoster virus.

The varicella-zoster virus is very contagious. It can cause 2 health problems: chickenpox and shingles. When you become infected with the virus for the first time, it causes chickenpox. After having chickenpox, most people become immune to the virus for the rest of their life. They can't get chickenpox again.

But after the first illness, the virus becomes dormant and "hides" in nerves in your body. Later in your life (most common), the virus can become active again. It causes a painful rash called shingles (herpes zoster).

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test if your healthcare provider needs to find out whether you are likely to get a varicella infection. This information can help healthcare workers who may work with patients who have the virus.

This test can also help your provider find out whether you have chickenpox if the diagnosis isn't clear. Symptoms of chickenpox include:

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Sore throat

  • Distinctive rash a day or two after other symptoms begin

The rash can last up to 2 weeks. The virus can be spread by touching the fluid of the skin lesions until all the lesions have crusted over.

What other tests might I have along with this test?

You aren't likely to need any other tests.

What do my test results mean?

Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, and other things. Your test results may be different depending on the lab used. They may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.

If testing is done to see if you are at risk of developing an infection and it finds varicella-related immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies in your blood, it means you are immune. You have had a chickenpox infection or have been immunized successfully.

If your healthcare provider suspects that you have chickenpox, your IgG levels can mean you have an infection if they rise over several weeks. In these cases, this test is usually needed only if your provider is unsure about the diagnosis after examining you.

How is this test done?

The test is done with a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in your arm or hand. 

Does this test pose any risks?

Having a blood test with a needle carries some risks. These include bleeding, infection, bruising, and feeling lightheaded. When the needle pricks your arm or hand, you may feel a slight sting or pain. Afterward, the site may be sore. 

What might affect my test results?

Having a history of chickenpox or vaccine against the disease can affect your results.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illegal drugs you may use.

Online Medical Reviewer: Chad Haldeman-Englert MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2022
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.