News for the week of Thursday, November 1st

What is Chickenpox?

Chickenpox is highly contagious disease caused by a virus called Varicella Zoster. It is the "childhood disease."

Who gets Chickenpox?

Most people are infected with chickenpox during their childhood, and 90% of people ages 14 and younger have gotten it. Adults have the highest risk for dying from chickenpox, with infants coming in second. Almost everyone will get chickenpox by the time they're adults.

Short-Term Effects

When your body reacts to the virus, it travels down the nerves to the nerve endings in the skin, causing a very irritating and painful rash. The rash goes through 3 phases. Raised pink bumps, fluid-filled blisters, and finally, after 8-12 hours, the rash will crust over. As soon as it crusts over, it is not considered contagious anymore. The crust usually falls off after 7 days, and it can sometimes leave a crater-like scar behind. Some symptoms are a mild fever, coughing, fussiness, lack of appetite, and general discomfort. Another possible symptom is Allodynia, which means that even a light touch or a gentle breeze going past the skin can be very painful.

Long-term effects

When chickenpox ends, the virus continues to live in the spinal cord for the rest of the persons life. It can also leave behind permanent scars. Chicken pox usually means lifelong immunity against a second attack. Under certain conditions, the virus may reactivate as shingles, usually around the age of 50.


Children are most commonly given a chickenpox vaccine when they are around the age of 1, and then again at the age of 4, which prevent catching the virus. Chickenpox can also be avoided by receiving a shot of chickenpox antibodies right after coming into contact with the virus. There are some antiviral medications that can possibly help shorten the length of time you have the illness, but cannot prevent it from happening.

Media Influences

Chicken Pox - Kid's Health Tips -
This is not a very reliable source, as it's only an informational and tip video on chickenpox.
Shingles Vaccine-Mayo Clinic
This is a reliable source. It talks about shingles, one of the possible long-term effects of chicken pox, from a reliable source, the Mayo Clinic.


Referring Physician Office:



Mayo Clinic
200 First Street SW
Rochester, MN 55905
ATTN: Referring Physician Office


Christian L. Baum, M.D.

Jerry D. Brewer, M.D.

Michael J. Camilleri, M.D.

Dawn Marie R. Davis, M.D.

Jennifer L. Hand, M.D.

Isabelle Schaper

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