CHICKENPOX|chicken pox vaccine|chickenpox|varicella|flesh-eating disease Understanding Chickenpox
Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by a viruscalled varicella-zoster.
In Canada, it is estimated that approximately 350,000 cases of chickenpox occur each year. Most children will have had chickenpox by the age of 9.
The virus is usually spread through:
direct contact with blisters that form on the skin the air, by coughing or sneezing
Infected persons often spread chickenpox even before the rash appears. They are considered contagious from two days before the rash appears until all the blisters have scabbed over. Children may be infected without you even realizing it.
Shingles is caused by the same virus, varicella-zoster (VZV), that causes chickenpox.
After a person has had chickenpox, VZV remains in the nerve cells by the spinal cord for life but is usually dormant. If it becomes reactivated, however, it can cause shingles. Early symptoms may include an outbreak of rash or blisters – usually on one side of the body or face – burning, tingling or shooting pain. Although skin symptoms may heal within weeks, the pain (called post-herpetic neuralgia) can be intense, severely debilitating and last for years. Other serious complications, such as blindness or hearing loss, may also occur.