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Chicken Pox is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus a type of herpes virus It is contracted by contact with actual lesions or by respiratory secretions and there is a 10-21 day incubation period during which your child is developing the illness but does not show any symptoms and is not contagious until the very last 1 or 2 days before the pox appear Once the vesicles show up there are likely to be many more on the way for between 3 and 7 more days and your child is contagious throughout this whole period until there are no new lesions for at least 24 hours and the old lesions are dry or scabbed This virus is unusual in several ways one way being that it settles into areas of the nervous system and then potentially can reactivate as a localized painful rash that follows a nerve path This is known as herpes zoster also referred to as Shingles and it is spread to anyone who has never had chicken pox only by direct contact with the lesions not by the respiratory route like the original chicken pox infection Zoster often occurs in elderly or run down or immune compromised people and is not the result of exposure to a child with chicken pox - it is a reactivation of ones own previous chicken pox infection usually from as far back as childhood This becomes important to families when young children with chicken pox are scheduled to visit grandparents and parents are concerned that their elderly parents will catch pox from the grandchildrenChicken pox can be acquired any time during the year but is most prevalent in winter and spring 90-95 of Americans get chicken pox in childhood and often from their own siblings For unclear reasons chicken pox is less common in tropical climates and many adult immigrants are not protected from this infection Infection in adults is typically more severe and
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