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|2007 VZV Policy (64 kB)|
Page updated 30 April 2007
Staff must know their immune status
Screening is done on appointment
Active vaccination is available from the Occupational Health Department
IF THERE IS A CASE IN A CLINICAL AREA YOU MUST DO THE FOLLOWING:
Draw up a list of staff and patient contacts
Contact the Infection Control Team
Susceptible staff in contact with chickenpox may have to be excluded from working in sensitive areas between day 8 after first contact and day 21 after last contact
Chickenpox and shingles are caused by the same herpes virus (varicella-zoster virus). Chickenpox (primary infection) and shingles (reactivation infection, especially of the trigeminal nerve) are highly infectious and risky to older, pregnant and immunosuppressed, and older individuals.
Shingles only occurs in patients who have previously had chickenpox. The virus reactivates in sensory nerve cells and erupts in the cutaneous distribution of the nerve. Systemic dissemination may occur in immunosuppressed patients.
Contacts of shingles who have not had chickenpox are at risk but they will develop symptoms of chickenpox not shingles. Virus is present in the vesicle fluid until the vesicles have dried. However, the respiratory secretions are not usually a source of infection in shingles except in those with oro-facial (trigeminal) disease. Immunosuppressed pateints (e.g. Hodgkin Disease) may have prolonged illness with viable virus excretion.