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What Is Chicken Pox Chicken pox is a rash illness caused by a virus Once a person is exposed to the virus it takes between 2 and 3 weeks before the symptoms appear Chicken pox usually occurs in childhood Adults who contract chicken pox are usually more ill especially with pneumonia Chicken pox is very common and highly contagious Approximately 3 million cases occur each year in the United States More than 90 of Chicken pox cases occur in children less than 12 years of age Symptoms Symptoms vary from individual to individual Some people may experience all of these symptoms while others experince one or two The symptoms are Mild fever backache headache sore throat a rash red spots and blisters filled with fluid The fever varies between 101 F to 105 F and returns to normal when the blisters have disappeared How is it Transmitted Chicken pox is transmitted through the air When a patient with chicken pox coughs or sneezes they expel tiny droplets that carry the chicken pox virus varicella-zoster virus VZV If a person who has never had chicken pox inhales these particles the virus enters the lungs and is carried through the blood to the skin where it causes the typical rash of chicken pox The infected droplets cause an initial infection in the respiratory epithelium The incubation period the time between exposure to the virus and appearance of symptoms is between 10 and 20 days Before the typical rash appears patients often develop a fever headache swollen glands and other flu like symptoms Skin vesicles contain the virus but are not the primary sources Scabs are not infectious Patients are contagious from 2 days before onset of the rash until all lesions have crusted Can Chicken Pox be prevented Yes The easiest way to prevent catching chicken pox is to get vaccinated However vaccination is only successful in 70 to 90 of all
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