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Questions And Answers About Chickenpox

What you need to know about chickenpox

What is chickenpox?

Chickenpox (also known as varicella) is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus.

What are the symptoms of chickenpox?

Individually, the symptoms of chickenpox are similar to those of other, more common medical problems. But when these symptoms occur together it is very easy for a doctor to diagnose chickenpox. The symptoms of chickenpox include:

  • a blister-like, itchy rash than can cover most or all of the body
  • a high fever 
  • dehydration 
  • vomiting 
  • diarrhea 
  • the exacerbation of an existing asthma condition 
  • a feeling of tiredness 
Who is most susceptible to getting chickenpox?

Anyone can contract chickenpox, but it is far more common in children under 15 years of age. About 4 million Americans come down with chickenpox every year.

Is chickenpox contagious?

Yes, very much so! The chickenpox virus is easily spread by contact with an affected person's skin or by breathing air contaminated by the coughs or sneezes of an infected person.

Is a vaccine available?

Yes, a vaccine for the varicella-zoster virus is available. It is about 85% effective in preventing the onset of chickenpox.

Is chickenpox a "one-time" disease?

Most people suffer from chickenpox only once, but a second occurrence can develop in rare instances.

Also, once a person contracts the chickenpox virus it never leaves the body. Instead, it retreats into the nerve roots where it can lie dormant for years, even for the rest of your life. But in about 1/10 of the population the virus becomes active again in later years manifesting itself as Shingles.

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