Chickenpox Facts: Diseases of the World

Many cures and vaccines have become available to the public for chickenpox, however this wasn’t always the case.


What is Chickenpox?

Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a highly contagious disease that is caused when the victim is exposed to the varicella zoster virus. Chickenpox is an airborne disease, meaning it spreads easily through coughing, cross-contamination, and sneezing. Symptoms include high fevers, small red blisters that are incredibly itchy, and migraines. Although symptoms typically don’t last more then a week, complications can occur including susceptibility to pneumonia, inflammation of the brain, and scarring.

How is It Spread?

Coughing and contamination through germs are the most common ways of spreading the varicella virus. The disease is airborne so virtually anyone is susceptible. If diagnosed with chickenpox, there is a 21-day period during which time a given infected person could spread the virus. Those taking care of victims of chickenpox must be very careful and vigilant so they do not contract the disease themselves. This being said, after an initial infection one becomes virtually immune to the disease for the rest of their life.

How Deadly is Chickenpox?

Though chickenpox is a common illness, it is also a preventable one. Vaccination of the disease comes in two doses. Pervious to the discovery of vaccinations, up to 4 million people were diagnosed with the disease each year world wide. The elderly and the young were the most susceptible to the disease as their immune systems don’t tend to be as strong. The chickenpox vaccination saved an estimated 150 lives per year and around 10,500 hospitalizations. Some medicines and vaccinations are hard to get to certain countries, and in countries lacking in proper medical systems higher mortality rates due to chickenpox are still found. This being said, globally there is a mortality rate of roughly 1 per 60,000 as a result of the disease.

How Widespread is this Disease?

Chickenpox reaches all lengths of the earth, although it was first found in Europe. The vaccination is on the “Essential Medicines for Children” list in the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, and a few European countries, which have also included the virus on their routine vaccination lists. Before chickenpox vaccination became the norm, many people were used to getting the disease at some point in their life. Up to 90% of Americans were infected with chickenpox at some point in their lifetime, though the situation is now changing.

Is There a Cure?

Acetaminophen is given as a pain reliever and to decrease fever in chickenpox patients. Acyclovir is given as an antiviral drug to combat the chickenpox virus, which has proven to be the most effective drug when treating the illness. Along with these medicines, a chickenpox vaccination is available to the public. Two doses of the vaccine are distributed to each personnel, and after the second shot you are virtually immune to the disease. Chickenpox may have been a problematic disease many decades ago, but with the use of modern medicine we have learned to combat and even prevent it.


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