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Chickenpox: Symptoms, Complications,
Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease that is caused by the Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV). Until 1995 there was no vaccine available against VZV.
Symptoms of chickenpox are usually mild and mostly irritating, but because it is so contagious, all children should be vaccinated against VZV.
If a person has had chickenpox once, they usually have life-long protection against the virus. However, VZV can lie dormant in a person’s body and cause Shingles later on in life.
Signs and Symptoms:
Fever and a sore throat develop about two weeks after exposure to VZV. The fever and sore throat will last about two days, after which a skin rash will develop.
The rash usually develops on the torso and then spreads to the head, arms and legs. The rash first looks like bug bites, then develop into blisters where after it will scab over. The fluid in the blisters contains highly concentrated infectious virus particles.
New spots continue to appear for up to ten days. The rash is very itchy; itchiness can range from mild to intense.
Other symptoms could include: unease and discomfort, irritability, coughing, runny nose, mild headache, abdominal pain or loss of appetite.
Children with chickenpox are contagious from two days before the rash starts until all the blisters have crusted over.
It takes about two weeks from being infected with VZV to showing symptoms.
Diagnosis is usually made based on a physical exam and a medical history.
Children between the ages of 12-15 months should be vaccinated and they should also receive a booster shot between the ages of 4-6 years of age.
The vaccine is about 95% effective in preventing an infection. Some children who got vaccinated will still get chickenpox, but symptoms will be very mild.
The vaccine is not approved for pregnant women, people with immune deficiencies and people who are allergic to the antibiotic Neomycin.
Unvaccinated people, who have had chickenpox, are immune and need not receive the vaccine.
Always wash your hands when coming into contact with someone who has chickenpox. Unvaccinated people who are not immune should avoid contact with infected people.
Chickenpox is a mild illness, most of the time. However, some people can be affected more severely or develop complications.
The chickenpox virus could be spread through tiny saliva droplets that become airborne when an infected person sneezes, coughs or laughs. The virus could also be spread via direct contact with the blisters.
Chickenpox is caused by a virus, so antibiotics cannot cure it. Your body will build up anti-bodies to the virus and kill it. These anti-bodies will provide life-long protection against chickenpox, so chances are that you will not contract it again.
Treatment for chickenpox is symptomatic. Antibiotics will only be prescribed to people who develop secondary bacterial skin infections, pneumonia and encephalitis.
Ibuprofen could help lower a fever. Never administer ASPIRIN to a child with a viral infection. The combination of aspirin and viral infections, in children 16 years old and younger, has been linked to Reye-syndrome, a potentially fatal condition.
Calamine lotion could be used to relieve itching.Home care:
Who is at risk?
When is chickenpox a medical emergency?
Author: Annemien van Staden
Copyright 2008: Remedium
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