Michael E Aponte
University of Phoenix
Chickenpox is a highly communicable virus named the varicella-zoster virus and closely resembles the herpes virus. The virus can be released into the air by coughing or sneezing, spreading the virus from person to person. The virus also can be spread by touching the fluids from a chickenpox blister. Chickenpox is so contagious that an individual who has never had exposure to chickenpox has an 80% chance of obtaining the disease when in close contact with an infected individual. According to Pub Med Health (2009) “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” (p.1). Only after the chickenpox blisters have formed scabs the individual is no longer contagious. Chickenpox infects people of all ages and races and can produce life threatening side effects. “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 has no known cure. The varicella-zoster virus remains in the body for life and can induce the disease shingles. Shingles happens fibers making a painful skin rash known as shingles. Complications from chickenpox include sk in infections, encephalitis, and hepatitis. The virus is most dangerous for pregnant women because it can cause stillbirths and even infection of the newborn during birth. Seasons and school sessions along with overcrowding are environmental factors responsible for the spread of the varicella-zoster virus. Environmental Factors Researchers have found that the varicella-zoster virus increases throughout the autumn months and decreases during the summer months. The virus decreases in the summer because children are out of school decreasing the spread of the virus from child to child. It only takes one child in a classroom to contract chickenpox for it to spread and cause an epidemic of 90% of children becoming infected (Net Industries, 2011). An overcrowded environment will spread the virus in epidemic proportions. Once infected with the varicella-zoster virus the body is immune to another outbreak. The epidemiology of chickenpox is decreasing dramatically because of vaccinations. Prevention Before the chickenpox vaccine, children would die from the disease and others would suffer from encephalitis resulting in severe brain damage. Whe n the vaccine was released to the public, it was never meant to prevent chickenpox, only designed to prevent severe symptoms and death. According to the CDC (2011) “The chickenpox vaccine is the best way to prevent chickenpox. Vaccination not only protects vaccinated persons, it also reduces the risk for exposure in the community for persons unable to be vaccinated because of illness or other conditions, including those who may be at greater risk for severe disease” (p. 1). The chickenpox vaccine has been effective in protecting 11 out of 12 individuals who receive the vaccination. “In the United States, children receive two doses of the varicella vaccine, the first between ages 12 and 15 months and the second between ages 4 and 6 years as part of the routine childhood immunization schedule” (Mayo Clinic, 2010, p. 2). The hope is that chicken pox will be eliminated through vaccines ensuring quality health for everyone. If an individual contracts chickenpox after vaccination the disease is mild and only lasts a few days. Community Programs Community immunization programs are critical to eliminating the varicella-zoster virus and preventing the spread throughout the community, ensuring quality y health. Community immunization programs are reducing the incidents...
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