What Is Varicella?

By amanda
Reviewed: Dr. Mera
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chickenpox/symptoms-causes/syc-20351282
  • 2. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/chickenpox
  • 3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/154912}
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Varicella, also known as chickenpox, is caused by the virus Varicella-zoster. People who have had chickenpox can also develop shingles later in life, caused by a reactivation of the same virus.1https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chickenpox/symptoms-causes/syc-20351282 Varicella is transmitted by inhaling respiratory droplets exhaled by an infected person2https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/chickenpox or by coming into direct contact with the lesions that form when the characteristic rash develops.

Chickenpox is extremely contagious and people who have not already had it or have not been vaccinated against it are at high risk for developing the signs and symptoms of the disease. Furthermore, symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on many factors (i.e. integrity of the immune system of the host). Sometimes life-threatening complications can develop. Shingles is a potential long-term complication of chickenpox, which, though not life-threatening, can cause severe illness and complications of its own.3https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/154912}

1. Prevalence

At one point, chickenpox was an extremely common childhood illness. Because of the highly contagious nature of the disease, it spread quickly in schools and other environments where children assembled. In 1995, a chickenpox vaccine was approved for use in the US.2https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/chickenpox

Thankfully, the vaccine is highly effective at preventing varicella, and it has undergone multiple studies showing it to be safe.1https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chickenpox/symptoms-causes/syc-20351282 The prevalence of the infection has decreased dramatically since then.


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