Chicken pox is a common childhood infection that usually causes mild disease. It is caused by a virus called Varicella zoster virus (or VZV for short).
The incubation period for chicken pox is usually 14 – 16 days but this might extend to between 10 – 21 days. Contacts are infectious from 48 hours before the development of the rash until all the lesions have scabbed over.
Typical features of infection before the rash appears includes fever, tiredness,sore throat and loss of appetite with the rash then developing within the next 24 hours. The rash is described as vesicular which means that there are small fluid filled lesions on the skin.
Most cases of chicken pox are mild and self limiting. Rarely there can be complications which affect the soft tissue, brain, lungs or liver. The disease can be a particular problem for patients with cancer, underlying immune deficiency, HIV , those who are on steroids or those who have had an organ transplant .
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