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Chicken Pox

  • Date Submitted: 06/20/2011 05:52 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 45.2 
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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...

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