Varicella-zoster infection (shingles)

This document contains the case definitions for Varicella-zoster infection (shingles) which is nationally notifiable within Australia. This definition should be used to determine whether a case should be notified.

Page last updated: 07 November 2008

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Surveillance case definition

Summary of changes
Last reviewed
Implementation Date
1.1  No Change 14 August 2008 14 August 2008
1.0 Initial case definition 2006 2006


Both confirmed cases and probable cases should be notified.

Confirmed case

A confirmed case requires laboratory definitive evidence AND clinical evidence.

Laboratory definitive evidence

1. Isolation of varicella-zoster virus from a skin or lesion swab.   


2. Detection of varicella-zoster virus from a skin or lesion swab by nucleic acid testing from a skin or lesion swab.


3. Detection of varicella-zoster virus antigen from a skin or lesion swab by direct fluorescent antibody from a skin or lesion swab.

Clinical evidence

A vesicular skin rash with a dermatomal distribution that may be associated with pain in skin areas supplied by sensory nerves of the dorsal root ganglia.

Probable case

A probable case requires clinical evidence only.

Note: Laboratory confirmation should be strongly encouraged for vaccinated cases. If positive, samples should be referred for identification as a vaccine or wild type strain.

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