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The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually given to people who do not have current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.

In the case of chickenpox, screening can be done to see whether you’ve acquired an immunity to the disease.

Screening Tests

Blood tests —A blood sample is taken and sent to a lab. Levels of antibodies are measured in the blood to see if you have developed immunity to chickenpox from an unrecognized previous infection or a forgotten immunization.

Screening Guidelines

People who have had chickenpox usually develop immunity to it. Since 1995, a chickenpox vaccine has been available. For this reason, the National Immunization Program recommends that if you are unsure if you’ve ever had chickenpox or been vaccinated, you should talk to your doctor about having a blood test to determine whether or not you have immunity. If the tests are negative, you are not immune. In most cases, you should then receive the chickenpox vaccine to protect you from getting chickenpox. Vaccination is particularly important for adolescents and adults, for whom infection with chickenpox may be severe or life threatening.

References:

Chickenpox (varicella). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/ . Updated April 25, 2013. Accessed May 30, 2013.

Memish ZA, Oni GA, Bannatyne RM, et al. The cost-saving potential of prevaccination antibody tests when implementing a mass immunization program. Mil Med . 2001;166(1):11-13.

Ronan K, Wallace MR. The utility of serologic testing for varicella in an adolescent population. Vaccine . 2001;19(32):4700-4702.



Last reviewed May 2013 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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