Chickenpox is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by the varicella zoster virus.
If you are not ill or have not been vaccinated, you have a 96% chance of getting sick from contact with a chickenpox patient.
Children with chickenpox suffer for up to two weeks, adults for longer.
How Can You Get Chickenpox?
The disease is spread by the infected person talking, coughing, sneezing. We spread the chickenpox virus through the air through tiny drops of saliva or through contact with secretions from the rash.
A healthy person with chickenpox becomes infected with:
- inhaling the virus along with the air flow;
- in contact with the discharge of the patient’s rash;
- in contact with surfaces exposed to the virus (toys, clothing, bed linen).
The patient is infectious 1-2 days before the rash appears and for about 5 days until all the blisters develop scabs.
What are the symptoms (signs) of chickenpox?
It takes 10 to 21 days from the time the chickenpox virus enters the body to become ill.
Signs of the disease:
- weakness, headache, loss of appetite;
- within a few days itchy, painful blisters (filled with clear or cloudy liquid) appear on the face, scalp, body, hands, feet, mouth. When the blisters rupture, scabs form in their place.
After the last rash, your body temperature returns to normal. The symptoms of the disease can be different for everyone – the disease can also occur without particularly pronounced symptoms. They rarely recur after chickenpox has occurred.
What can be the complications of chickenpox?
The risk of chickenpox complications increases in children over the age of 12, but adults suffer the most from the effects of the disease.
Pregnant women are at high risk of developing chickenpox. The virus increases the risk of miscarriage and premature birth, and can cause serious physical and mental health problems for the baby.
Chickenpox is especially dangerous for the elderly or those with a chronic illness. Chickenpox should also be especially protected in people with a weakened immune system, such as HIV-infected patients, after taking certain medicines and in patients with a malignancy.
The most common complications of chickenpox are:
- inflammation of the brain and meninges – encephalitis and meningoencephalitis;
- bone and joint infections;
- skin infections or scars caused by touching and scraping the rash (more common in children);
- otitis media.
After the chickenpox has spread, the virus remains in the body’s nerve cells in most people.
Later in life, it can become active and, if it weakens the body, shingles, meningitis or encephalitis can develop. Very rarely, chickenpox can be fatal.
How is chickenpox treated?
There are no special medications to treat chickenpox. The treatment tactic is decided by the patient’s attending physician. Antipyretics are usually used to reduce fever and fever.
Use anti-itching agents recommended by your doctor to reduce itchy skin. In severe cases, we treat the chickenpox patients in hospital.
A pregnant woman who is not immune to the virus (has not become ill or has not been vaccinated) should consult a doctor immediately if she comes into contact with a chickenpox patient!
To prevent the patient from endangering others:
- the patient must remain at home for at least 5 days after the last rash;
- should not receive guests at home;
- the patient and his family members should pay special attention to personal hygiene – wash their hands frequently;
- it is recommended that the patient be accommodated in a separate room and use separate dishes;
- it is recommended to trim the patient’s nails to prevent infection by touching the rash;
- the patient’s bed linen must be changed regularly;
- during treatment, the patient should drink enough fluids and eat a complete diet.
In the event of a case of chickenpox in an educational establishment, restrictive measures lasting 21 days must be imposed.
How not to get sick?
Vaccination is the best protection against chickenpox.
- Vaccination against chickenpox is given to children aged 12 to 15 months. The first vaccine is included in the Vaccination Calendar. However, two doses of vaccine are needed to achieve the maximum effect of vaccination.
- Vaccination against chickenpox may be given in combination with vaccination against other infectious diseases. Vaccination is carried out with a combination vaccine that will also protect against measles, rubella and mumps. Vaccination against chickenpox is recommended in women who are planning to become pregnant and who are not immune to the chickenpox virus.
- Vaccination is recommended for people who have never been vaccinated against chickenpox or have not had it. Remember that no vaccination completely protects against the disease. If a vaccinated person who has not developed full immunity still becomes ill, vaccination helps to cope with the disease in a milder form. Ask your family doctor for more information about vaccination against chickenpox.
What Actions To Take After Vaccination
Vaccination, which protects the child against infectious diseases, can have different reactions in some cases. In order to detect them in time, pay more attention to child after vaccination.
There are two possible reactions after any vaccination:
- mild – redness, swelling or soreness at the injection site or fever, rash, irritability, restlessness, crying (in children), drowsiness. These reactions are a reaction of the immune system and go away within a few days.
- severe but very rare, such as analytical shock, a severe allergic reaction that may occur within the first 30 minutes after receiving the vaccine. The frequency of this shock is observed in one case out of a million doses administered.