Chicken Pox

➤ What is Chicken Pox?:
    Chicken Pox is a highly contagious viral disease. Chicken Pox causes a distinctive itchy red rash which turns into blisters that crust over. A common childhood disease, this epidemic is the handiwork of Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV).

Chicken Pox 101

Chicken Pox

Photo Credit: Creative Commons Flickr Domitille Parent 2016
➤ Also known as:
➤ Microbiology:
    Viral Infection.
➤ Medical Specialty:
    Infectious Diseases.
➤ Causes:
    Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV)
➤ Likely Symptoms:
    • Very itchy red rash in neck, torso and limbs
    • From red bumps to fluid-filled blisters (vesicles) which scabs over
    • Blisters appear in the mouth, scalp, around ocular area and genitals
    • Rashes will repeat itself in new areas of the body (two weeks)
    • Tiredness, Fever and Headaches
    • Very contagious up until the spots dry up completely
➤ Onset of Symptoms:
    10 to 21 days after initial exposure to infection
➤ Transmission:
    • Spread of infected droplets from sneezing or cough
    • Contact with clothing or materials from an infected person (virus active for several hours)
➤ Should I consult a Physician:
    • As soon as you see the rashes distinctive of the chickenpox infection, call your doctor. This is specially important if your baby is less than a month old.
    • Get emergency medical help, if your child exhibits vomiting, high fever or convulsions.
    • Pregnant mothers with unborn babies require immediate medical advice.
    • Stiff neck or sleppiness can be a sign of complications like Meningitis. Call your physician immediately.
    • If you are an immunosuppressed patient (HIV or undergoing chemotherapy)
➤ Complications:
    • Bacterial Infection with pus (constant scratching)
    • Bacterial Pneumonia (Children)
    • Scarring
    • Ear infection
    • Meningitis or Encephalitis or Myocarditis
➤ Diagnosis:
    This viral disease can be diagnosed based on the presenting symptoms. A PCR test (polymerase chain reaction) of the blisters may confirm infection. Antibody tests can be undertaken to verify immunity of patients.
➤ Cure or Treatment:
    • Aciclovir (Shortens duration of Chickenpox infection symptom)
    • Analgesics (Paracetamol) or Acetaminophen for pain
    • Antihistamine to relieve itchiness and swelling
    • Antibiotic for secondary bacterial infection or for bacterial pneumonia
    Complimentary Treatment:
    • Drink lots of water
    • Topical Aloe Vera gel, Calamine lotion or Chickweed cream for itchiness
    • Bathing with oatmeal or baking soda in water to soothe itchiness
    • Cut patient fingernails or use hand gloves (cloth) to prevent scarring and bacterial infection to the blisters
➤ Immunity:
    Patients who recovered from Chickenpox would likely develop life-long immunity. However, the virus stays dormant in the nervous system, and may later reactivate in the form of Shingles (Herpes Zoster).

Chicken Pox Quick Notes

➤ Epidemiology:
    Chickenpox is most contagious a day or two before the onset of itchy reddish rashes. This continues up until the wound scabs dry over.
➤ Prevention of epidemic spread:
    • Keep your patient or child at home up until the blisters dried-up as it is highly contagious.
    • Immune adults supervising a patient are advised to avoid contact with pregnant women
➤ Pregnancy Risks:
    • Miscarriage, Premature Birth, Congenital damages, Natal death.

    • Fetal Varicella Syndrome for infected fetus during the first 28 weeks of gestation.

    • Neonatal Varicella for late gestation infants infected with the virus

    • Note: Pregnant women who have had previous infection and are immune to Chicken Pox will not be reinfected together with the infant.

➤ Vaccination:
    • Two shots of Chicken Pox vaccine is 90% effective in preventing infection.
    • 1st dose Age 12 to 15 Months
    • 2nd dose Age 4 to 6 Years
    • Older people (13 and above) who never got vaccinated must get two shots (28 days apart).
    • HIV infected patients or recovering Cancer patients may consider the vaccine after an advice from the physician
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