Myths and Misconceptions: Varicella-Zoster Virus Exposure, Infection Risks, Complications, and Treatments

Alexander M. Newman, Ravi Jhaveri*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Varicella zoster and herpes zoster are infections caused by the highly contagious varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Despite widespread availability of vaccines against VZV, as well as varicella vaccination rates >95%, VZV remains a public health concern because of several common myths and misconceptions. Because of the success of routine varicella vaccination programs, some people mistakenly believe that varicella and herpes zoster are now no longer a threat to public health. Another common misconception is that shingles is less infectious than varicella; however, clinical evidence indicates otherwise. Several knowledge gaps exist around VZV transmission and the availability and use of varicella zoster immune globulin (human) for postexposure prophylaxis against VZV. To help reduce the incidence of severe disease in high-risk individuals (eg, elderly people, pregnant women, unvaccinated persons, infants, and immunocompromised children and adults), this article addresses misbeliefs and broadens awareness of VZV exposure, infection risks, complications, and treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1816-1822
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Therapeutics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • herpes zoster
  • postexposure prophylaxis
  • public health
  • varicella

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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