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Diseases

Chickenpox

Chickenpox

Chickenpox is a viral infection and is highly contagious. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Chickenpox is generally seen in babies but can affect the adults as well as people with weakened immune systems. It causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness and fever. 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.
The incubation period is for about 10-21 days after contact with an infected person. Chickenpox is most infectious from one to two days before the rash appears until all the blisters have crusted over.

Symptoms

It includes:
• Blister like rash
• Itching
• Tiredness
• Fever
• Feeling sick
• Aching, painful muscles
• Headache
• Loss of appetite

Causes

Chickenpox is a contagious disease i.e. it spread from infected person to non-infected person who has not received vaccination. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Virus generally spreads via air contamination through coughing and sneezing. It also spreads through contact like use of towels, handshake etc.

Diagnosis

Microscopic examination: Skin lesions are the preferred specimen for laboratory confirmation of varicella disease. Vesicular swabs or scraping from crusted lesions can be used to identify varicella zoster virus by polymerase chain reaction or direct fluorescent antibody.
Blood test: In absence of lesions, blood tests are performed to know the levels of serum varicella IgG from acute cases by any standard serologic assay. This can confirm a diagnosis retrospectively but may not be reliable in people with decreased immunity.

Treatments

Calamine lotion and colloidal oatmeal baths helps in relieving some of the itching. Fingernails should be trimmed short may help prevent skin infections caused by scratching blisters.
Medications:
• Analgesics (Pain killers) like Paracetamol, ibuprofen etc helps in relieving pain.
• Antiviral drugs like acyclovir are also given in chicken pox (but given only in complicated cases as prescribed by doctor).
• Fluid intake: Plenty of fluids intake helps in keeping hydrated.

Preventions

The best way to prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine. Chickenpox vaccine is very safe and effective at preventing the disease. It is seen that most people who get the vaccine will not get chickenpox. If a vaccinated person does get chickenpox, it is usually mild with fewer blisters and mild or no fever. Vaccine should be administered to the children less than 13 years.
Ist dose is administered: 12-15 months
IInd dose is administered: 4-6 years

References:
www.cdc.gov (link is external)
www.unicef.org (link is external)
www.cdc.gov (link is external)
www.nhs.uk