Varicella, otherwise known as chickenpox, is a highly contagious disease that can be very uncomfortable and sometimes life threatening. It is most common among children under the age of 10 years old. This vaccination is highly recommended because it has resulted in a dramatic decline in hospitalization and deaths of chickenpox in the United States.


Chickenpox was first discovered in the 1600s by an English physician named Richard Morton who thought it was a mild form of smallpox, but it wasn’t completely distinguished as chickenpox until 1767 by another English physician named William Heberden. This illness was once an almost universal childhood experience with about 4 million people obtaining it each year, 10,600 hospitalized from it, and 100 to 150 deaths resulting from it. Michiaki Takahashi, MD, is the man who created the varicella vaccination in 1974. Later in 1995 it was licensed and used in the United States.


Varicella (chickenpox) usually lasts around 5-10 days after obtaining the disease.

Chickenpox usually begins with:

  • - high fever
  • - tiredness
  • - loss of appetite
  • - headache
  • - rash
  • - blisters

The rash first appears on the face, chest and back area and then spread to the remainder of the body including the genital area, eyelids and inner mouth. Then it blisters up and normally takes around a week for the blisters to scab up and eventually falls off.


Chickenpox is very easily spread from people who have the virus, especially if the other individuals they are around have never had it before. The virus can spread through the air by the sneezing or coughing of an infected individual. It can also get spread through touching or breathing in virus particles from the chickenpox blisters. An individual with chickenpox can spread the virus to others from 1 to 2 days before they get the rash, all the way until every blister scabs up. It usually takes approximately 10 to 21 days after being around someone with the virus to obtain it if you are exposed to them or they are exposed to you.



Chickenpox is a very serious illness that can be obtained by any individual who has not yet had it. Infants, adolescents, adults, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to suffer from chickenpox complications.

Common chickenpox complications include bleeding problems and dehydration.

  • Bleeding problems can result from the vesicles, which can be very large and bleed quite often.
  • Dehydration can result from chickenpox so it is very important that you stay hydrated. Sugar-free ice-lollies are a good source for children hydration with chickenpox and can even soothe the mouth sores from the illness.

Some more severe complications can result from chickenpox such as pneumonia and toxic shock syndrome.

  • Pneumonia can be caused from chickenpox approximately 2 to 10 days after the chickenpox rash and normally begins with a fever and cough.
  • Toxic shock syndrome is a rare illness but results from bacteria entering the skin through a cut or open wound of some kind. It causes high fever, rapid blood drop, vomiting and much more.

Chickenpox is highly life threatening for adults because the symptoms hit you much stronger, but is rare for adults since most people have already has chickenpox as a child and once you get it you become immune to it.


  • Chickenpox can be prevented by two doses of the varicella vaccine (VV).
  • These chickenpox vaccines give you a 98% chance of not ever getting it.
  • In the United States more than 3.5 million cases of chickenpox, 9,000 hospitalizations and 100 deaths are prevented by the varicella vaccination.