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Laboratory Diagnosis

The clinical presentations of varicella or zoster are so characteristic that laboratory confirmation is rarely required. Laboratory diagnosis is required only for atypical presentations, particularly in the immunocompromised.

Virus Isolation - rarely carried out as it requires 2-3 weeks for a results.

Direct detection - electron microscopy may be used for vesicle fluids but cannot distinguish between HSV and VZV. Immunofluorescense on skin scrappings can distinguish between the two.

Serology - the presence of VZV IgG is indicative of past infection and immunity. The presence of IgM is indicative of recent primary infection.

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