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Control & Investigation of Varicella Outbreaks

To improve existing knowledge about the epidemiology of varicella and to have a basis for refining varicella vaccination policy, it is important to monitor and investigate varicella outbreaks.

Strategies for the Control and Investigation of Varicella Outbreaks Manual

The manual provides guidance in the control and investigation of varicella outbreaks. With input from state and local public health departments, CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) developed this guidance in 2008 and is currently updating it. Following these guidelines, public health officials can identify appropriate responses to reports of varicella cases to determine if an outbreak exists and, if so, to evaluate its scope and to implement control measures appropriate in the outbreak setting.

The guidelines are provided in 9 sections, with a large appendix offering useful samples as well as a thorough reference section.

View "Strategies for the Control and Investigation of Varicella Outbreaks" online or download [412 KB, 37 pages]. Each section is described and linked here:

  • Introduction
    Review varicella epidemiology and the impact of the varicella vaccination program, vaccine recommendations, school immunization requirements, and the importance of data from varicella outbreak surveillance and investigations.
  • Background
    Find information on the clinical presentation of varicella disease in unvaccinated and vaccinated persons, clinical presentation of shingles, and vaccine effectiveness and efficacy of 1 and 2 doses of varicella vaccine.
  • Reporting
    Learn about ongoing varicella surveillance activities and recommendations for varicella case-based surveillance and outbreak surveillance. For additional resources, see VZV Surveillance.
  • Case Definition and Classifications
    Find case definitions and classifications for varicella disease and varicella-related deaths, as well as the laboratory criteria for a varicella diagnosis.
  • Laboratory Diagnosis of Varicella
    Identify when varicella cases should be laboratory confirmed and when VZV genotyping is important. For more information, see VZV Laboratory Testing.
  • Definitions
  • Recommendations
  • Vaccine
    Refer to resources on varicella vaccine recommendations and reporting of adverse events.
  • Conclusions
    Review strategies for controlling varicella outbreaks and preventing further spread of disease.
  • References
  • Appendices
    View or download a varicella outbreak reporting worksheet; samples of an exposure letter, a survey to identify varicella cases, letters of notification of a varicella outbreak, a case investigation form, and varicella surveillance worksheet; and formulas for varicella outbreaks.

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