Varicella, also known as chicken pox, is a highly contagious and infectious disease. It is caused by varicella zoster virus. Infection by varicella usually provides lifelong immunity but can cause re-infection in immunocompromised individuals.
Incubation period usually varies from 10-21 days. The infectious period usually begins 2 days before the appearance of rash and ends when the lesions begin to crust. The virus is usually transmitted by close direct contact or through droplets or aerosols and also through respiratory secretions of infected individuals (CDC, 2007).
Varicella infection is more common in children as compared to adults. Around 90% of individuals <15yrs of age have immunity against varicella. The infection is usually self limiting in children. It presents with non specific fever, malaise and vesicular rash generalized all over the body. Vesicular lesions are present in crops and in various stages, i.e. some are vesicular while others are crusted. The disease follows a more serious course and the rate of complications is also higher in adults and immunocompromised individuals. The common complications of varicella are superimposed bacterial infection, pneumonia, hepatitis and encephalitis. The reinfection of varicella usually occurs as a localized lesion and is known as shingles of zoster infection (Asmal, 2007).
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