Varicella (Chicken pox)
is an acute, infectious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) and is most commonly seen in children under 10 years old. Adults can also have chicken pox if they have not had it when they were a child.
Most people with chickenpox will make a full recovery but serious complication can occur in adults, pregnant women, newborn babies and people with weakened immune systems.
Occurs 1 to 3 weeks after being infected. Main symptom is a rash that develops in 3 stages:
Spots - red raised spots develop on the face or chest before spreading to other parts of the body.
Blisters – fluid filled blisters on top of the spots that usually occurs over the next few hours or the following day.
Scabs and crusts – Blisters dry out after a few days and scab over forming a crust that falls off gradually over the next week or 2
It is contagious usually 5 or 6 days after the appearance of rash. It is contagious until the blister have scabbed over. The virus spreads through touching or breathing the virus particles from chickenpox blisters, direct contact with contaminated object or surface and through tiny air droplet from infected people through breathing or talking.
The varicella- zoster virus can also cause Shingles, commonly in adults.
Vaccine (Varivax®) may be recommended for adults and children who are in regular or close contact with someone who has a weakened immune system or at risk of serious illness if they catch a chicken pox. Non-immune healthcare workers, close relatives or carers (who have not previously had chicken pox) of people who are unwell.
The vaccine is made from a live but weakened, or attenuated, virus. Viruses that have been attenuated are less virulent than viruses that are not. Pregnancy should be avoided a month after having the vaccination.