Public and Community Health
September 26, 2011
Varicella-zoster is the virus that causes Chickenpox, and closely resembles the herpes virus. Chickenpox is a very communicable virus that can be transmitted by touching the fluid from a chickenpox blister or if a person suffering from the virus coughs or sneezes near another person. Chickenpox is easily identified by the tell tale fluid filled itchy blisters that form on the body. “Most children with chickenpox act sick, with symptoms such as a fever, headache, tummy ache, or loss of appetite and the average child develops 250 to 500 small, itchy, fluid-filled blisters over red spots on the skin” (Pub Med Health, 2009). Chickenpox is so contagious that a person who has never had the virus has an 80% chance of contracting it if he or she comes into contact with a person suffering from it (DHPE, 2010).
Chickenpox infects people of all ages and races although approximately 90% of the population will contract Chickenpox by the age of 15 (Alberta Health & Wellness, 2005, p. 1). “Each year in the United States, 4,000 to 9,000 persons are hospitalized with chickenpox, and up to 100 persons die. Those at highest risk for complications are newborns, persons with weakened immune systems, and adults” (DHPE, 2010, p. 1). Chickenpox does not have a cure and the varicella-zoster virus stays in the body for life and can present itself later in a person’s life. This is known as Shingles, which is a painful, blistering rash that can cause long-term consequences known as post-herpetic neuralgia, which is a condition marked by persistent pain even after the rash has resolved (National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (2009). Other complication a person may get from Chickenpox include, skin infections, encephalitis, pneumonia, myocarditis, and Reye’s syndrome (Pub Med Health, 2009).
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