WHAT IS IT?
Varicella (Chickenpox) is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It spreads easily from infected people to others who have never had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine. Chickenpox spreads in the air through coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread by touching or breathing in the virus particles that come from chickenpox blisters.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
- Blister-like rash
- Loss of appetite
Blisters can cover the whole body including inside the mouth, eyelids, and genital area. It generally begins 14 to 16 after being infected. It usually lasts for 5 to 10 days. A person is contagious from one to two days before the rash appears until all blisters have formed scabs. Pregnant women, adults, babies, and people with weakened immune systems are at risk for serious complications.
Serious complications are:
- Bleeding problems
- Blood stream infections (sepsis)
- Bacterial infections of the skin and soft tissues
- Infection or inflammation of the brain
HOW CAN I PREVENT CONTRACTING THIS DISEASE?
Currently there is a vaccine to prevent chickenpox. The chickenpox vaccine is 98% effective at preventing the disease. The first dose is recommended to children 12 to 15 months and a second dose at 4 to 6 years.
It is ok to give acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help relieve pain and fever for children and adults that have chickenpox. Never give Aspirin to reduce pain or fever in children with chickenpox. Aspirin has been associated with the serious disease Reye syndrome, which can lead to liver failure and death.
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