Lab Tests Are Key for Diagnosing Chickenpox

Data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that clinical diagnosis of varicella (chickenpox) in children without laboratory confirmation is often unreliable. Only about half of clinically diagnosed cases were positive for the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). The state expanded PCR testing for varicella to improve diagnosis accuracy and saw an increase in lab-confirmed cases. Clinical diagnosis can be challenging, especially for vaccinated individuals or those who are immunocompromised. While classic presentations may not require testing, in cases of uncertainty, lab testing can be beneficial for proper management and infection control. Outreach and free testing initiatives have helped increase lab testing numbers in Minnesota.

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