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Alert Date: 
Friday, July 28, 2017 - 10:00am

To: Health Care Providers
July 28, 2017

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) has seen an increased number of varicella cases among adults in the Kingsville/Leamington area. This update is to provide general information on varicella and to stress the importance of reporting and confirming the diagnosis.


  • Report all suspected/confirmed cases of chickenpox to the Health Unit by the next business day by calling 519-258-2146 ext. 1420.
  • Please complete the Health Care Provider Investigation Tool and Reporting Form available on the WECHU website under the “Forms” section and fax to 226-783-2132.

Laboratory Diagnosis /Specimen Collection

  • Obtain a viral culture by collecting a swab from a “fresh” vesicle using a virus culture collection kit.
  • Serology for varicella zoster virus (VZV) should be collected 3-7 days after rash onset. Complete the public health lab General Test Requisition requesting “Blood, Varicella-Zoster (chickenpox) IgG/IgM Diagnosis” and include symptoms and onset date.
  • Detailed specimen collection requirements and handling can be found on the Public Health Ontario website @
  • Contact the Public Health Ontario Laboratory Services at 1-877-604-4567 for more information

Varicella (Chickenpox)

  • Chickenpox is an acute illness spread person-to-person by direct contact, droplet or airborne spread of vesicle fluid or secretions of the respiratory tract of infected individuals
  • Clinical presentation may include fever accompanied by a maculopapular rash that progresses to a vesicular rash that dries and scabs over
  • Incubation period is 10 to 21 days, commonly 14-16 days
  • Period of communicability is usually 1 to 2 days before the onset of the rash and until all lesions are crusted (usually about 5 days after the onset of the rash)
  • Varicella vaccination is part of the publically funded immunization schedule for eligible individuals

Infection prevention and control practices

  • Patients with suspected chickenpox should be promptly isolated (excluded from work, daycare, school, church, etc.) until the rash is “crusted over” / dry

Management of contacts

  • Advise contacts about signs and symptoms of chickenpox and to seek medical treatment as needed
  • Educate contacts that there is a risk of infection up to 21 days post exposure
  • Pregnant women and those immune compromised are at increased risk and should seek medical attention

If you have further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the Infectious Disease Prevention Department at 519-258-2146 ext. 1420 and speak to a nurse.