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Varicella-zoster infection

Alternate name: Chickenpox, Shingles

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Chickenpox fact sheet - Health conditions directory.

Shingles fact sheet - Health conditions directory.

Chickenpox (varicella) is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus.

Shingles (or herpes zoster) is a condition caused by the chickenpox (varicella-zoster) virus.

Shingles can only occur in people who have previously had chickenpox. When a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus does not completely disappear from the body but stays dormant in the nerves of the spine. However, as a person gets older, it is possible for the virus to reappear in the form of shingles.

Shingles is uncommon before the age of 12 years with most cases occurring in people over the age of 40 years. Most people who have shingles have only one bout of the disease in their lifetime. However, individuals with weakened immune systems such as people with AIDS or cancer may suffer repeated infections.

Resources for health professionals

  • Australian immunisation handbook - provides clinical guidelines for health professionals on the safest and most effective use of vaccines in their practice.
  • Immunisation – Queensland Health website for health professionals.
Last updated: 5 June 2023

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