Varicella-Zoster Virus Antibody
Does this test have other names?
Serum varicella immunoglobulin G antibody level
What is this test?
This test looks for antibodies in your blood that your body makes against the varicella-zoster
The varicella-zoster virus is very contagious. It can cause two 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, the virus can become active again. It causes a painful rash
called shingles, or herpes zoster.
Why do I need this test?
You might have 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:
The rash lasts for about 2 weeks. It can spread until all the spots on the skin have
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?
Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses
to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you
may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare
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 having 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
How is this test done?
The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your
Does this test pose any risks?
Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection,
bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight
stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore.
What might affect my test results?
Having a history of chickenpox or vaccination against the disease can affect your
How do I get ready for this test?
You don't need to prepare for this test. But 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 illicit drugs you may use.