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Chicken Pox




Cause Chicken Pox | Chicken Pox Children | Treatment of Chicken Pox | Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV)

Chicken Pox, also called varicella, contagious viral disease that affects mainly children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 4 million people develop chicken pox each year, and more than 95 percent of Americans will have had chicken pox by the time they reach adulthood. There are about 100 deaths from chicken pox each year in the United States.

Chicken Pox - varicella-zoster virus (VZV)

The spherical varicella-zoster virus (VZV) infects most children worldwide by the age of 10. Transmitted in airborne droplets exhaled from an infected person, the virus causes a low fever and a rash of fluid-filled blisters that begin as red spots covering most of the body and the inside of the mouth. The disease is dangerous to newborns, to people first infected in adulthood, and to those in whom the virus remains dormant in nerve cells, erupting as the more painful and sometimes chronic zoster (shingles) later in life. VZV is a member of the Herpes virus family, which also includes the causative agents of infectious mononucleosis, roseola, and oral and genital herpes. (Cause Chicken Pox, Chicken Pox Children, Treatment of Chicken Pox, Varicella-Zoster Virus - VZV)

Typically, chicken pox begins with a low fever, headache, rash, and a general feeling of sickness, or malaise. The rash, which usually covers the face, scalp, and trunk of the body, starts as red bumps but quickly develops into small blisters. The rash and the blisters are extremely itchy. As the disease progresses, the blisters break open and form scabs, which fall off after about one to two weeks. The incubation period—the time between initial infection and the first appearance of symptoms—is approximately two weeks. (Cause Chicken Pox, Chicken Pox Children, Treatment of Chicken Pox, Varicella-Zoster Virus - VZV)

Chicken Pox Children

Chicken pox, sometimes called varicella, is a common childhood disease. While highly contagious, chicken pox is life-threatening only to children with natural or drug-induced immune deficiencies. The disease affects adults more seriously than it does children.

Chicken pox is caused by varicella-zoster virus, a type of herpes virus. The virus spreads through the air via infected droplets emitted from the nose or mouth while coughing or sneezing. Touching the fluid from a chicken pox blister can also spread the disease. Chicken pox is contagious for approximately seven days during a person’s period of infection. Contagiousness begins about two days before symptoms appear and continues until all blisters have formed scabs. Doctors recommend keeping the infected person isolated from others during those seven days. (Cause Chicken Pox, Chicken Pox Children, Treatment of Chicken Pox, Varicella-Zoster Virus - VZV)

Chicken pox is usually much milder in children, for whom hospitalization is usually not required, than it is in adults. However, in children whose immune systems are weakened from such diseases as cancer or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), the disease can be severe. (Cause Chicken Pox, Chicken Pox Children, Treatment of Chicken Pox, Varicella-Zoster Virus - VZV)

Contracting chicken pox provides immunity, or lifelong resistance, against the disease. However, after the symptoms disappear, the virus remains in the body's nerve cells and occasionally reactivates later in life, causing a disease known as shingles, an infection of the nerve fibers. Shingles usually occurs in people over 50, due to an age-related weakening of the immune system, and causes pain, burning, itching, inflammation, and blisters. (Cause Chicken Pox, Chicken Pox Children, Treatment of Chicken Pox, Varicella-Zoster Virus - VZV)

Treatment of chicken pox is usually limited to bed rest, acetaminophen for relief of fever and discomfort, and measures that soothe the itching, including lukewarm baths and application of topical medicines such as calamine lotion. Excessive scratching can cause infection of blisters, which can lead to scarring. Acyclovir, an antiviral drug, is used to treat severe cases of chicken pox, particularly in patients with a weakened immune system. (Cause Chicken Pox, Chicken Pox Children, Treatment of Chicken Pox, Varicella-Zoster Virus - VZV)

A child or adolescent with chicken pox should never be given aspirin or other salicylates because of the possible link to Reye's syndrome, a disease that develops only after a viral infection, characterized by high fever, vomiting, liver dysfunction, and swelling of the brain. Although Reye's syndrome is rare, it is life threatening. (Cause Chicken Pox, Chicken Pox Children, Treatment of Chicken Pox, Varicella-Zoster Virus - VZV)

In 1995 the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first vaccine for chicken pox for use in healthy children 12 months and older, as well as in adolescents and adults not yet exposed to the disease. The FDA has predicted that the vaccine will be 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing chicken pox, and that the people who still contract the disease will experience it in a milder form. Scientists are not yet certain whether the vaccine will protect a person for a lifetime, or whether a person’s immunity will lessen over time. Diminished immunity may cause people who were vaccinated as children to contract the disease as adults. A study is now underway to determine the vaccine's long-term effectiveness and the possible need for booster shots. (Cause Chicken Pox, Chicken Pox Children, Treatment of Chicken Pox, Varicella-Zoster Virus - VZV)

Chicken Pox | Cause Chicken Pox | Chicken Pox Children | Treatment of Chicken Pox | Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV)