Chicken pox FAQ

Is herpes zoster contagious?

Because the virus that causes herpes zoster is the chicken pox virus, persons with active herpes zoster are at risk for transmitting chicken pox. Like chicken pox, the person is considered infectious until the rash has crusted over. Persons who have not had chicken pox are at risk for getting it if they come in contact with the fluid oozed from the vesicles. Those with chicken pox transmit the virus most effectively by respiratory means (sneezing, runny nose, saliva, etc.) However, unlike chicken pox, those with herpes zoster do not transmit the virus by respiratory means. It is only transmitted by the fluid from the vesicles of the rash. Therefore, transmission of the virus may be substantially minimized by covering the rash well and being very careful to wash hands thoroughly.

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