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: 08 March 2018

Surveillance case definition

Version Summary of changes Last reviewed Implementation date

No Change

2017 1 January 2018

No Change

14 August 2008 14 August 2008
1.0 Initial CDNA case definition (2004). 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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