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Varicella (Chicken Pox)

Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Anyone who hasn’t had chickenpox or gotten the chickenpox vaccine can get the disease. Chickenpox illness usually lasts about 5 to 7 days.

The classic symptom of chickenpox is a rash that turns into itchy, fluid-filled blisters that eventually turn into scabs. The rash may first show up on the face, chest, and back then spread to the rest of the body, including inside the mouth, eyelids, or genital area. It usually takes about one week for all the blisters to become scabs.

Other typical symptoms that may begin to appear 1-2 days before rash include:

  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache

Children usually miss 5 to 6 days of school or childcare due to chickenpox. The best way to prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine.  Chickenpox outbreaks continue to occur even in settings such as schools where most children are vaccinated. However, there have been fewer outbreaks reported ever since the two-dose chickenpox vaccination program started in the United States. The vaccine may not prevent all chickenpox, but it is very effective at preventing severe cases.

A fact sheet for parents that describes symptoms of infection as well as benefits and risks of vaccination.

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